Were the Novations Early Baptists?

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Were the Novatians Baptists? Many Baptists like to claim the Novatians as their own. Landmarkers believe the Novatians were Baptists through and through. For example, J.R. Graves (1880) declared “that all the churches of Christ, before the ‘apostasy,’ which took place in the third and fourth centuries…were what are now called Baptist churches” (Old Landmarkism: What is It? Kindle Locations 2235-2236).

Thomas Armitage, the great Baptist historian, rightly said this was a rash characterization (1890, p. 482). If the Novatians cannot be claimed as direct descendants, can they be claimed as the distant spiritual kin of modern-day Baptists? Some Baptists would agree.

Much of what has been written of the Novatians by Baptists of any stripe is at best a gloss, and at worst completely incorrect. As an example of the latter, G.H. Orchard, a Landmarkist, wrote (1855):

One Novatian, a presbyter in the church of Rome, strongly opposed the readmission of apostates, but he was not successful…. Novatian, with every considerate person, was disgusted with the hasty admission of such apostates to communion, and with the conduct of many pastors, who were more concerned about numbers than purity of communion. (p. 53)

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The Incoherence of Evolutionary Origins (Part 5)

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The definition of science

In the course of writing about the idea of science in his Systematic Theology, Reformed writer Michael Horton notes that “Britain’s Royal Society was founded by Puritans” (The Christian Faith, 339 n.48).

The Puritans saw no clash, either ontological or methodological, in pursuing science as a response to God’s revelation. The fact that God created the world and created man in His image meant that to find out what God had done was both legitimate, as to fueling an expectation of discovery, and meaningful, because creation had been endowed with its own integrity apart from God while being supervened by God. In this they were in line with the Reformers like Calvin, who said:

Meanwhile being placed in this most beautiful theater, let us not decline to take a pious delight in the clear and manifest works of God. For as we have elsewhere observed, though not the chief, it is in point of order, the first evidence of faith to remember to which side, so ever we turn, that all which meets the eye is the work of God, and at the same time to meditate with pious care on the end which God had in view in creating it. (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, I. 14, 20)

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A Thoughtful Conversation on Issues of Baptist Fellowship

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For Baptist Fundamentalists, “dual affiliation” is a phrase that has been, historically, charged with tension. The term was significant in the events that led to the birth of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC), as well as the beginnings of the Minnesota Baptist Association (MBA) and the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International (FBFI). Over the years, these organizations have rarely intersected with one another in any formal manner, and for many a sense of suspicion has lingered.

Recently, the matter of dual-affiliation was raised in a new context when First Baptist Church in Marshall, Minnesota (where I serve as pastor) sought and obtained fellowship in GARBC associations while retaining its established fellowship in the MBA.

The resulting gathering

Prompted largely by the Marshall congregation’s actions, over 100 Baptists from Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin gathered September 19 at Fourth Baptist Church (Plymouth, MN) for a panel discussion. The event was billed as “The Future of Baptist Fundamentalism: A Thoughtful Conversation Between Baptist Brothers.” Read more about A Thoughtful Conversation on Issues of Baptist Fellowship

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The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 7)

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Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com. Read the series so far.

Chapter Five: The Public Service in the Synagogue and the Church (continued)

Bible Reading in the Church

While accepting the complete OT canon of the Jews, NT-era Christians also recognized additional written works as divinely-inspired and therefore authoritative. As the various Apostolic writings were composed and circulated, their authority was recognized and they began to be read in the churches in addition to the Old Testament Scriptures.

In 1 Timothy, Paul’s “textbook” on “church polity” (see 3:14-15), he instructs Timothy, proseche tei anagnosei, “devote yourself to the reading” (4:13). That this is the public reading of the Scriptures and not simply an exhortation to extensive private study is evident, first, from the presence in Greek of the definite article, “the reading,” that is, something well-known The article is similarly used in the references to the reading of the Scriptures in the synagogue, Acts 13:15; 2 Corinthians 3:14. Second, the two following activities, “the exhortation, the instruction,” are clearly public activities carried out in the assembly. Most commentators seem to understand the reading to be public and in the church, rather than private. Included in this number are Alford,1 Ellicott,2 Fairbairn,3 Van Oosterzee,4 Liddon,5 White,6 Lock,7 Robertson,8 Hendricksen,9 and Earle.10 On the other hand, there are those who understand the verse to mean private study, including Calvin,11 Gill,12 and Barnes13 (Clarke understands it of both public and private reading).14 Read more about The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 7)

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The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 6)

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Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com. Read the series so far.

Chapter Five: The Public Service in the Synagogue and the Church (continued)

Public Bible Reading

Inasmuch as Bible instruction was an important function of both the synagogue and the church, it is no surprise to discover that the public reading of the Scriptures was among the regular activities of both. The value, even necessity, of the reading of Scriptures orally in both the synagogue and the church is further recognized when it is pointed out that considerable numbers of individuals in the first century were completely illiterate and could not read the sacred text for themselves at all. Besides this, the high cost of manuscript copies of the Bible made private possession and private reading of the Scriptures well beyond the reach of most individuals. Read more about The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 6)

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Getting Married for All the Wrong Reasons

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My husband and I have been married for 13 years, and we’ve spent 10 of those years in “ministry.” During this time, we’ve seen the most unlikely relationships blossom into beautiful, fruitful marriages; we’ve also witnessed the disintegration of more marriages than I care to think about. And that’s nothing to talk of the pain and confusion we’ve experienced in our own.

It’s no secret that our society struggles with sustaining faithful, happy marriages. And yet, no one wants to go through a divorce; no one enters marriage with the goal of simply exiting it. As a result, there’s a lot of competing advice about what you should do prior to marriage in order to make yours successful. Some folks tell you to wait until you’re “sure” and others advise getting married young. Truthfully, though, I don’t think the problem is when we get married so much as why we get married. A lot of us are getting married for all the wrong reasons.

So, if you’re not married already, here are a few things to consider:

1. Do not get married simply to get married. 

For some folks, the idea of marriage is more important than the individual they are marrying. Do not marry a woman because you want to be a “husband;” and please, do not marry a man simply because you want to be a “wife.” If you want to “play house,” buy one of these instead. Read more about Getting Married for All the Wrong Reasons

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The Incoherence of Evolutionary Origins (Part 4)

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After the Impossible Hurdle

Evolution is the atheist’s way out. It is his escape clause from having to face the God who created him. People like Richard Dawkins may convince themselves that it makes atheism intellectually respectable, but they must first convince themselves that naturalism is intellectually respectable.

The problem here is that, as in many walks of life, it is possible to arrange our arguments selectively and with rhetorical conviction while ignoring the issues, even the most obvious ones. So if we begin to stack up the problems: – something does not come from nothing; life does not come from non-life; the mathematics of sequence space (not enough time); the contradiction of using target-oriented computer programs to “simulate” discrete non-targeted chance scenarios; the logical fallacies (question-begging, composition, reification), etc., these problems make the intellectual satisfaction appear rather hollow. Read more about The Incoherence of Evolutionary Origins (Part 4)

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Why I'm Not a Calvinist . . . or an Arminian, Part 5

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If neither Calvinism nor Arminianism is sufficient explanatory devices, then how can we explain the biblical data? A series of biblical assertions is sufficient to accomplish that task.

#4 He Engages the Human Condition, Based on His Own Will

  • For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. (Romans 9:15-18)
  • All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. (Matthew 11:27)
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