Saturday, August 30, 2008

Tom Nettles interviewed on Founders Podcast

A few weeks ago I interviewed Tom Nettles, professor of historical theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, for the Founders Podcast. The first part of that interview is available here. In it Dr. Nettles talks about how he became a seminary professor and the book, Baptists and the Bible, which he co-authored with the late Russ Bush just as the inerrancy controversy was beginning in the SBC. Part 1 is 13 minutes.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Open Letter of Apology to Dr. Johnny Hunt from Scott Morgan

When I began this blog 3 years ago I decided to follow a rather liberal policy on comments. That approach has allowed for some "over-the-top" statements to be made by folks from various perspectives. This approach has allowed for "heated and offensives comments to be posted." Let me restate my rationale for allowing such comments to be posted here.
I choose to leave such comments up because I think that by doing so a more accurate picture is portrayed about current thoughts on an issue than would otherwise be the case. One thing a blog does is provide opportunity for almost immediate feedback. Within the parameters stated above, I want that feedback to be an honest assessment of what readers of this blog are thinking--even when I may disagree strongly with the content, perspective or tone of those thoughts. What this necessitates, then, is allowing certain things to be said or to be said in ways that I personally do not condone.
One brother who has expressed himself here in the past in very strong language is my friend, Scott Morgan. Recently the Lord has convicted him of some of the things he has written. Scott is a church planter and pastor in Georgia. Scott contacted me earlier this week and asked if I would consider posting this letter of apology that he has written to his former pastor, Johnny Hunt. I am happy to do so. Dr. Hunt has already received this letter is and aware that it is being made public.

Christians live by God's grace which means that we must live in repentance and faith. Our hope is not in our performance but in the life and death of Jesus Christ. Jesus died for our sins of pride, sinful speech and lack of love. When we are thinking properly about the cross, we cannot help but deal honestly and humbly with our sins.

In this letter, Scott is putting the fruits of repentance on display. Since many of the things for which he has repented were recorded here in the comments section, it is appropriate that his letter be printed here, as well.

Though no Christian ever rejoices in sin, we all should rejoice in displays of repentance and pray that the Lord will make each of us willing repenters as well as believers.

An Open Apology to Dr. Johnny Hunt,
Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock

By: Scott Morgan, Pastor of Fellowship Community Church

It is with a sincere heart and contrite spirit that I write this post. The reason for this apology is to bring glory to Christ and to make peace with a fellow brother. A few years ago on this website, I wrote some very unchristlike remarks concerning the ministry of Dr. Johnny Hunt. The Lord has brought deep conviction upon my spirit. Tom Ascol has granted me permission to post this blog; Dr. Hunt has not requested this letter, but the Lord has laid it upon my heart through His Word.

When I began to serve the Lord's Supper on a monthly basis, the Lord began to convict my spirit. As you know, the Scripture commands us to examine ourselves to determine if we are eligible to partake of the Lord's Supper. Recently, the Lord overwhelmed me of my personal sin against a fellow believer in Christ. I recognize that I have offended a fellow brother with my ungodly words and bitter spirit. Of course, the Bible commands us to have peace with one another. Because of Christ's atoning death for His people, He has bestowed the gift of reconciliation and commanded us to live in harmony with each other.

In 1999-2002, I had the privilege of serving on staff at FBCW in the capacity of Minister to Young Married Adults and Discipleship. I resigned from my position due to theological disagreements with Dr. Hunt. Because I felt like I was correct, I spent many years battling bitterness and resentment. I often said unkind things that were unwarranted. Pastor Johnny was always kind to my family and never retaliated or said unkind things publicly about me personally. During my tenure under Pastor Johnny, I can say that he was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, and a devoted Christian who loved his church and pursued the things of God. He exemplifies a forgiving spirit and always extended a helping hand to those in need. Although we disagree on Calvinistic theology, Pastor Johnny diligently seeks to preach the Scriptures in love. Though we may have different methodology, I sincerely believe that Dr. Hunt loves Christ and seeks to glorify God. I neglected to follow the commands of Matthew 18; I sinned against the Lord and against Pastor Johnny.

I encourage those who embrace the Calvinistic theology of our Baptist forefathers to recognize that we are not perfect; in fact, even those that do not embrace these doctrines must realize that if we have not love for one another, then what do we have?

Thank you, Tom Ascol, for allowing me to post this blog. Dr. Hunt is my brother in Christ and deserves better than this. I ask that he, his family, and the members of First Baptist Church of Woodstock forgive me for my sinful behavior and words. Thankfully, I have been in contact with Pastor Johnny; he has forgiven me and we are in the process of setting up a meeting.

In His Service,
Pastor Scott Morgan

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Andrew Fuller Conference at SBTS

The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies is hosting a conference this week on the campus of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. The theme is "The English Baptists of the 17th Century" and features well-known Baptist historians and theologians such as Tom Nettles, Michael Haykin, Stan Fowler Jim Renihan and Malcolm Yarnell as well as some who are students and younger scholars.

It looks to be a wonderful conference. Andrew Fuller is one of my heroes and a Baptist statesman who is worthy of the kind of honor and respect that Center (under Michael Haykin's direction) bestows. Certainly modern Baptists have much to learn from our forefathers in the faith, such as those who will be the focus of this year's gathering.

I couldn't help but notice that Dr. Jerry Vines will be speaking in chapel on Tuesday during the conference. He has publicly expressed his opinion that, based on his research, the 17th century London Baptist confessions do not explicitly teach the five points of Calvinism. His words, to be exact, were,
...the London confessions, Philadelphia confession, New Hampshire Confession...these confessions bear a close resemblance to some of the five points although there is no clear cut evidence that Baptists in their confesssions of faith ever truly subscribed to everything that the five points of Calvinism would teach."
Perhaps the conference will provide opportunities to explore this and other related doctrinal/historical theses related to 17th century Baptist beliefs. Check out the line up below. Hopefully, mp3s of the presentations will be made available in the near future.

Conference Schedule

Monday, August 25

7:30 - 8:45 AM Breakfast and Registration

9:00 AM An Opening Word Dr. Michael Haykin, Director of The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies

9:10 AM Plenary Session 1: "The English Calvinistic Baptists of the 17th Century--An Overview" Dr. Malcolm Yarnell (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)

10:25 AM Plenary Session 2: "John Spilsbury and the Beginning of the Baptists" Dr. Tom Nettles (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

11:40 AM Plenary Session 3: "Hanserd Knollys (1599-1691) and the Interpretation of Revelation" Dr. Barry Howson (Heritage Theological Seminary)

12:45 PM Lunch

2:45-3:25 PM Parallel Session 1:

Room A: "Henry Jessey (1601-1663): his Life and Though" Jason Duesing (PhD candidate, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)

Room B: "'A Poor and Despised People': Abraham Cheare and the Calvinistic Baptists at Plymouth." Dr. Jeff Robinson (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

Room C: "Baptist Associations in the 17th century" Dr. Stan Fowler (Heritage Theological Seminary)

3:35-4:15 PM Parallel Session 2:

Room A: "Benjamin Keach's Doctrine of Justification" Tom Hicks (PhD candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

Room B: "The Role of Metaphor in the Sermons of Benjamin Keach" Chris Holmes (PhD candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

Room C: "Turks, Jews, & God's Plan for His People: Hanserd Knollys' Understanding of Abraham's Other 'Descendants'" Dr. Dennis Bustin (Atlantic Baptist University)

4:30 - 5:00 PM Tour of Archives of the James P. Boyce Centennial Library (Optional)

7:00 PM - Dinner

8:30 PM Plenary Session 4: "The Importance of Baptist Confessionalism" Dr. Albert Mohler (President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

Tuesday, August 26

7:30 - 8:30 AM - Breakfast

8:45 AM Plenary Session 5: "The Strange Case of Thomas Collier" HERITAGE HALL Dr. James Renihan (Dean, The Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies)

10:00 AM - SBTS Chapel - Chapel Speaker: Dr. Jerry Vines

11:30 AM Plenary Session 6: "Benjamin Keach and the Protestant Cause Under Persecution" Austin Walker (Pastor, Maidenbower Baptist Church, Crawley, UK)

12:30 PM - Lunch

2:20 - 3:00 PM - Parallel Session 3:

Room A: "Thomas Wilcox and his A Choice Drop of Honey from the Rock Christ" Dr. Stephen Yuille (Toronto Baptist Seminary)

Room B: "Hercules Collins and The Temple Repair'd: Baptists and Theological Education" Steve Weaver (PhD candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

3:10 - 3:50 PM - Parallel Session 4:

Room A: "The Prison Epistles of Thomas Hardcastle" Dr. Peter Beck (Charleston Southern University)

Room B: "17th century Baptists and the Perseverance of the Saints" Jay Collier (PhD candidate, Calvin Seminary)

4:00 PM Plenary Session 7: "William Kiffin (1616-1701)--His Life and Thought" Dr Larry Kreitzer (Regent's Park College, University of Oxford)

5:00-5:10 PM A Closing Word, Dr. Michael Haykin (Director, The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies)

Returning Home

The last 6 weeks have been memorable for my family and me, to say the least. Donna, my oldest child and I hope to arrive home tonight after a wonderful experience in Alaska. The Reformation Conference was very encouraging, and the opportunity to fellowship with pastors and serious-minded church leaders has left me very hopeful about what the Lord is doing in South-Central Alaska.

Many of the stories that I heard about the difficulty of ministry are similar to those that are told by pastors and serious believers all over. Spiritual lethargy, doctrinal ignorance and cultural Christianity are maladies that know no geographic, ecclesiastical or confessional boundaries. The need for reformation and revival is widespread.

Yet, the signs of reformation can be found in Alaska as well as elsewhere. The very fact that a Reformation Society has been formed and concerted efforts to promote fellowship around the Gospel is indication of that.

Alaskan churches face some peculiar challenges, which is true of churches everywhere. The rugged individualism and "can-do" spirit that is vitally important to living in an environment that can be harsh and demanding. While we were there, we went from having 17 hours of daylight to 16 hours. Days are shortening by more than 5 minutes with each sunset. In the depth of winter, only a few hours of daylight will appear each 24 hours. Anchorage has witnessed several bear attacks this year--one leaving a 15 year old girl several injured by a Grizzly.

Individualism can lead a man to think that he is self-sufficient in every area of his life. The Gospel must be proclaimed with a special sensitivity to deconstructing this delusion. I have been encouraged by the believers that I met who are committed to doing just that.

I have been very conscious of the Lord's help as I have returned to limited ministry activities. And I know that this help has been given in response to the prayers of God's people. As I reflect on what the Lord has done and how He has done it, I am humbled and very grateful for His grace that has been communicated to me through so many means.

As I begin to transition to my regular responsibilities, I am very hopeful about the future. As Greg Welty and others have challenged me, I don't want to "waste my lightning." Pray that God will help me at just this point.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Thanks for your prayers

It has been a month since I had my up close and personal encounter with lightning. These last 4 weeks have been filled new experiences. Some of those were mentioned in Donna's update a couple of weeks ago. Others have been harder to articulate. About a week after the strike I was able to write the following to my church family.
Most of my thinking has been somewhat productive. Some of my thoughts, however, have been pretty dark. I have been reminded of Bunyan's Faint-heart, Mistrust and Guilt, who, if once they get in a man, know how to lay low both Mr. Great-Grace as well as Mr. Little-Faith. They have become familiar enemies the last few days.

I am not angry at God. I am not disappointed with Him. Nor do I think He had nothing to do with this. The events of early Tuesday morning are so unusual that it is impossible not to see the sovereign hand of God at work orchestrating every event.
As I have told many people since that night, my first conscious thought was, "God has done this." I don't think it is enough simply to say that He allowed it. I believe He orchestrated it. As I also wrote to the church,
The same God who sent the bolt of lightning through my body is the One who sent His Son to cross. I have no reason to doubt His mercy and grace.
Those thoughts have been increasingly confirmed to me over the ensuing days. By His grace I was able to attend our church's morning worship services this past Sunday and able to address, albeit very briefly, both English and Spanish congregations. It was very encouraging for me to be there and to fellowship and worship with brothers and sisters to whom I am united in the bonds of grace.

I reminded our church that God is good in all His ways. He was good in sparing my life. And He would have been good in taking it. Psalm 119:71 and 75 are my testimony. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, and I do know that God has done this in faithfulness.

There are many more lessons that the Lord is teaching me--and reteaching me. So much of the Christian life is not learning new things but learning fundamental things in new ways.

Doctors have given me reason to anticipate continuing progress in recuperation. I am seeing daily improvements. There are still some difficulties with which I must contend, and, I have been encouraged to be patient with these. Hopefully, they will diminish with time.

I am so very grateful for all of the prayers and expressions of love and encouragements that have come my way. Many who I know primarily or even exclusively through blogging have encouraged me with notes and comments. I am deeply appreciative and reminded of the wonder of being in the family of the living God.

Please continue to pray as the Lord brings me to mind. I am planning to preach this week for the first time since the strike. Fortunately, I have a great apostolic example of preaching "in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling" (1 Cor. 2:3).

In the future, I hope to be able to write more specifically about lessons learned through this experience. If I am enabled to do so, I will post such thoughts here.