Graves, Landmarkism and the Kingdom of God (Part 1)

If you’re a Baptist in America, you’ve probably heard of a peculiar brand of Baptist polity called “Landmarkism.” D.A. Carson recently quipped that hyper-Calvinism is a term usually reserved for somebody you don’t like!1 In Baptist circles, this is usually the intent when one uses the term “Landmarker.” That is not the way the term is used here! It is a genuine historical term, and its American founder was proud to call himself a “Landmarker.”

This series is a survey of what the father of American Landmarksim believed about the local church, and why he believed it. It is not a refutation of that position, although I will make some brief remarks along that line. This is an important topic, because I suspect many Baptists who hold to Landmark distinctives don’t actually understand what original Landmarkism actually taught.

A fiery, intelligent and formidable preacher from the mid to late 19th century named J. R. Graves is largely responsible for the development of Landmarkism. He admitted as much in 1880: Read more about Graves, Landmarkism and the Kingdom of God (Part 1)

Decadence of Darwinism

(About this series)

CHAPTER III - DECADENCE OF DARWINISM

BY REV. HENRY H. BEACH, GRAND JUNCTION, COLORADO (Copyright, 1912, by Henry H. Beach.)

This paper is not a discussion of variations lying within the boundaries of heredity; nor do we remember that the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures reveal anything on that subject; nor do we think that it can be rationally discussed until species and genus are defined.

Failure to condition spontaneous generation by sterilized hay tea, and a chronic inability to discover the missing link, have shaken the popularity of Darwinism. Will it recover? Or is it falling into a fixed condition of innocuous desuetude?

As a purely academic question, who cares whether a protoplastic cell, or an amoeba, or an ascidian larva, was his primordial progenitor? It does not grip us. It is doubtful whether any purely academic question ever grips anybody. But the issue between Darwinism and mankind is not a purely academic question. Read more about Decadence of Darwinism

Book Review - A Theology for the Church

Image of A Theology for the Church
by
B&H Academic 2014
Hardcover 770

Systematic theologies are invaluable resources for the Church. They are as varied as the authors who write them and some are more beneficial than others. The preponderance of systematic theologies are written by individuals within a denominational/theological tradition. While there are many multi-authored books on specific topics, this is not the case with systematic theologies. So it is unique and a bit refreshing when a systematic theology does comes along that breaks the individual author mold.

One of these few contributions is A Theology for the Church, Revised Edition edited by Daniel L. Akin. First published in 2007, the revised edition has new chapters on theological method from a missional perspective by Bruce Ashford and Keith Whitfield and a theology of creation, providence, and Sabbath by Chad Owen Brad which engages current research in science and philosophy. Additionally, the chapters on special revelation by David Dockery and human nature by John Hammett have been updated.

Overview

A Theology for the Church follows the standard outline of systematic theology starting with the doctrine of revelation and concluding with the doctrine of the end times. Each chapter approaches these doctrines through a fourfold pattern: (1) What does the Bible say? (2) What has the church believed? (3) How does it all fit together? and (4) How does this doctrine impact the church today? Read more about Book Review - A Theology for the Church

Improving Adult Sunday School classes

From Faith Pulpit, Winter 2015. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

My purpose in the first article was to call churches back to the priority of adult Sunday School classes because I believe they can do everything small groups can do and more and can provide the best format for discipleship. In short, adult Sunday School has the greater potential for benefit to a church. In this second article I offer some suggestions for how we adult teachers can improve our adult classes so they reach their full potential.

1. Commit to using printed curriculum that covers the Bible systematically.​

One of the advantages of adult Sunday School classes over small groups is they can cover all the Bible systematically. This kind of coverage will not happen if adult teachers are allowed to choose their own studies. Systematic coverage can only happen when teachers follow a printed curriculum that covers the entire Bible. And if a church has more than one adult class, this kind of coverage can only happen when all the adult teachers in a church follow the printed curriculum.1 For adult classes to reach their full potential, printed curriculum that covers the Bible systematically is essential. Read more about Improving Adult Sunday School classes

In Defense of the Adult Sunday School

From Faith Pulpit, Winter 2015. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

The venerable adult Sunday School class has not been doing well recently. Most churches still have one or more adult Sunday School classes (though some churches have already abandoned them), but a new adult ministry seems to be getting the priority these days—small groups.

I believe that one reason for the popularity of small groups is that in many cases we have not done adult Sunday School well. Adult Sunday Schools in many churches have become stale and lifeless, so we have looked for a new ministry. Small groups seem like the answer to the problems of adult Sunday School classes.

How Do They Differ?

Most of us are familiar with adult Sunday School classes. Churches have had them for decades. Smaller churches may have only one class while larger churches have multiple classes. Churches that have more than one adult class may group the adults by ages (my preference) or allow adults to attend any class they want. Many churches today call the adult classes Adult Bible Fellowships (ABFs). Read more about In Defense of the Adult Sunday School

From the Archives: Real Resurrection

cross(Originally posted March, 2012.)

April 5 is Easter, when Christians worldwide celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. We gather the first day of every week throughout the year for this same purpose, but Easter Sunday marks the anniversary of the event.

Or does it? “No, no,” some insist, “not the anniversary of the event, the commemoration of the experience.”

It has become something of a rite of spring for some leading voice among this or that mainline Christian denomination to assure the world that the resurrection of Jesus was not a historic event. In March 2008, for instance, the Dean of Perth at St. George’s Anglican Cathedral, the Very Reverend John Shepherd, insisted that “the resurrection of Jesus ought not to be seen in physical terms, but as a new spiritual reality.” He urged his hearers to understand that it is “important for Christians to be set free from the idea that the resurrection was an extraordinary physical event which restored to life Jesus’ original earthly body.” The physical resurrection of Jesus is not only unessential to Reverend Shepherd’s faith, it is apparently something of an encumbrance.

The fourth article in the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion—not long ago the Anglican Church’s official creed—claims that “Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again his body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of Man’s nature.” But not to worry, the Very Reverend John Shepherd assures us, religion is always evolving. Old, dusty documents like the Articles should not be permitted to exercise undue influence upon our enlightenment. Read more about From the Archives: Real Resurrection

Does the Believer Have One Nature or Two? (Part 6)

Criticisms of the Two-Nature View

Though I have argued that the two-nature view is a theologically accurate way to describe the believer’s struggle with sin and that Scripture itself supports such a view; nevertheless, the two-nature view has been subjected to severe criticism. That criticism has come mainly from within the Reformed camp. One of the most outspoken critics was B. B. Warfield. His views are found in an article entitled, “The Victorious Life,” which was originally written for the Princeton Theological Review in 1918 and later reprinted as part of his two-volume work, Perfectionism, in 1931.1 Equally important is Warfield’s review of Lewis Sperry Chafer’s book, He That Is Spiritual, which appeared in the Princeton Theological Review in 1919.2 The significant point to note about Warfield’s opposition to the two-nature view is that his criticism was based on a particular formulation of the two-nature view. Warfield criticized Chafer’s presentation of two natures in the believer, not so much because of his two-nature terminology, but because Warfield believed Chafer’s particular two-nature viewpoint was defective as it related both to regeneration and sanctification. Warfield’s chief objection to Chafer was theological, not semantic. That this is the case can be demonstrated from the fact that Warfield’s own teacher in theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, Charles Hodge, used two-nature terminology,3 and, as we would expect, Warfield’s views on regeneration and sanctification are in full agreement with those of Hodge.4 A more recent Reformed theologian, Anthony Hoekema, whose views are substantially the same as Warfield’s, also firmly supports the concept of two natures in the believer.5 Read more about Does the Believer Have One Nature or Two? (Part 6)

Tipping, Tithing, and Grace Giving: The Concept of Grace Giving

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4. This article will stand somewhat alone, but is best understood within the context of the overall biblical teaching on giving.

Most Christians know that giving of material and financial resources as an offering to God and to support the work of ministry comes with the territory of being a believer. Many have been taught that tithing (giving 10% of one’s income) is the accepted way to give. A key point in this article series is that tithing fades from view and grace giving comes to the forefront in New Testament Christianity.

So the question is, what is “grace giving” and where is it taught in the Bible? Read more about Tipping, Tithing, and Grace Giving: The Concept of Grace Giving