Were the Novatians Early Baptists? Part 2

Read part 1.

The doctrine of baptism

Baptists believe the New Testament teaches that baptism is only for a believer, by immersion, upon a profession of faith, as a step of obedience and public testimony. Baptists do not believe baptism is a means of grace or regeneration. Novatian disagreed with all of these propositions.

On the Apostolic Tradition (possibly written by Hippolytus) records the practices of the church in Rome in the early third century.1 Since the Decian persecution, and the subsequent Novatian schism, took place during the early to late 250s AD, the Apostolic Tradition is a very important resource for understanding how the church at Rome likely operated in Novatian’s day. It is a fact that the church practiced infant baptism:

You are to baptize the little ones first. All those who are able to speak for themselves should speak. With regard to those who cannot speak for themselves their parents, or somebody who belongs to their family, should speak. Then baptize the grown men and finally the women, after they have let down their hair and laid down the gold and silver ornaments which they have on them. Nobody should take any alien object down into the water.2

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The "Midas Touch" of Good Will

The term “good will” is one I love. Webster defines good will as “a friendly or kindly attitude; benevolence” or “cheerful consent; willingness.” It is an important term, one that can affect our entire disposition and approach toward life.

The fictitious King Midas had a magical touch that turned everything to gold. Believers do not have a “Midas Touch,” but exuding good will comes close. I have seen good will on the part of one marital partner literally save a marriage. I have seen Christians take giant spiritual leaps ahead because someone believed in them, expressing good will. Few of us realize the untapped power available to them when we have an attitude of good will. Embracing good will makes us a blessing to others.

I think of good will as a positive attitude that expects the best from others, sometimes despite previous disappointments. It is wishing well to another, hoping things will prosper for that person, or giving that person a fresh chance to deliver the goods. It is certainly foolish to trust someone who has proven inconsistent or obstinate; good will is not for every situation, but it is for most. Read more about The "Midas Touch" of Good Will

What's in a Name

One of the first rules of Appalachia is never mess with a drunken redneck.

I was reminded of this just a few days ago. It was Sunday evening around 6:30 and my husband and I had decided to take our kids up to the playground of their elementary school. Normally, we’d be at prayer meeting at this time, but today was Homecoming Sunday. We’d already spent the majority of the day at church, enjoying worship, dinner on the grounds, and homegrown music. Everyone needed the evening to decompress, and the playground and walking track sounded perfect.

As we stepped out the door to get in our van, we noticed a rusty, white Ford Explorer parked on the edge of our property. A solidly-built man in his mid-to-late forties was walking around one of our trees and seemed to be sizing it up. He was wearing cargo shorts, a dirty cut-off t-shirt, and somehow managed to have a long, straggly ponytail and a shaved head simultaneously. He was accompanied by a younger man, a copy of himself, minus the ponytail. Read more about What's in a Name

The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 8)

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)

The Sermon in the Synagogue

After Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah, He delivered a message—a sermon, if you will—to those assembled in the synagogue (Luke 4:21-27). All the references to Jesus teaching or preaching in the synagogues of Galilee also bear testimony to the fact that the synagogue was pre-eminently a place of biblical instruction (see Mathew 4:23, 9:35, etc.) where the sermon was as regular a part of the service as the prayers and the Bible reading. Read more about The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 8)

Myths of Faith #3 - It's Being Sure of What God Will Do

When my dad was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer several years ago, I experienced a faith-collision. On the one hand was the strong likelihood that glioblastoma was going to take his life within two or three years. On the other was the fact that “with God, all things are possible.”

Of course more than one of us asked God to heal Dad. We asked God to use the medications, to lead us to some undiscovered cure, to make surgery more effective than it normally is for this disease.

What collided was my faith in what God could do and my uncertainty about what He would do.

Many teach a perspective on faith that would erase these collisions. They counsel that living by faith means absolute, unwavering trust that God will certainly do some specific thing. He will provide the funding for this project; He will open the door for that new job; He will give the church five new families in the new year; He will heal this disease. Read more about Myths of Faith #3 - It's Being Sure of What God Will Do

The Testimony of the Scriptures to Themselves

(About this series)



My subject is, The Testimony of the Scriptures to Themselves—their own self-evidence—the overpowering, unparticipated witness that they bring.

Permit me to expand this witness under the following heads:

  1. Immortality.
  2. Authority.
  3. Transcendent Doctrine.
  4. Direct Assertion.

1. IMMORTALITY— “I have written!” All other books die. Few old books survive, and fewer of those that survive have any influence. Most of the books we quote from have been written within the last three or even one hundred years,

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From the Archives: Liar!

(From Oct. of 2012)

Why are some people so eager to call others’ inaccurate statements “lies”?

Since we’re not far from another national election, the word “lie” is, as usual, getting an intense workout. But this phenomenon isn’t unique to election year politics. Over and over, and in a variety of settings, I’ve observed this: people encounter what they see as falsehood and immediately leap to the judgment that someone is lying—and say so.

I’ve always found this behavior puzzling, and sometimes head-against-wall maddening. Are these accusers unable to see that everyone (including themselves) is sincerely wrong about one thing or another nearly all the time? Have they managed to miss the memo that to err is human?

Maybe it’s a failure to adjust for bias. Do they believe that if they dislike someone, or strongly disapprove of his ideas or actions, they are entitled to judge his character by a completely different standard than they use against themselves? Do they not realize that if they want others to judge their character generously, they should judge the character of others generously?

Or do they just not know what a lie really is? Read more about From the Archives: Liar!

Were the Novations Early Baptists?

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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