Ecclesiology

Thy Kingdom Come? The Kingdom, the Church, & Social Justice (Part 2)

This article first appeared in the Baptist Bulletin. © Regular Baptist Press, Arlington Heights, Illinois. Used by permission. Read Part 1.

Our participation in God’s work: missio Dei

The heart of the debate comes down to determining our role in God’s plan to reestablish the Mediatorial Kingdom. Do we have a job? Are we supposed to be helping God establish His kingdom? It would seem that most Christians believe this to some extent, simply judging by phrases like, “Helping God bring in the kingdom,” and “We need to reclaim culture for the kingdom.”

Where’s the truth in all of this? Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” If God has asked us to work for Him, and if God’s overall goal in world history is to reestablish His kingdom, then our work must contribute to this in some  way. But to what extent are we partners with God in this endeavor? Are we supposed to help God with everything He’s trying to accomplish?

There are three main views on the coming kingdom, and each view answers this question differently.

Premillennialism teaches that the kingdom has not come yet, and that it is going to come in the future in all of its glory, as predicted in Old Testament prophecy, with Jesus ruling and reigning this planet as the mediatorial, human (and divine) ruler. Read more about Thy Kingdom Come? The Kingdom, the Church, & Social Justice (Part 2)

Thy Kingdom Come? The Kingdom, the Church, & Social Justice (Part 1)

This article first appeared in the Baptist Bulletin. © Regular Baptist Press, Arlington Heights, Illinois. Used by permission.

On a recent vacation, I took the opportunity to spy on another church. My family was visiting friends out of state who took us to their nondenominational, nonaffiliated church. My radar was tuned in. From the moment we stepped onto the property to the moment we left, I was analyzing everything.

In such settings, I play a game: see how quickly I can figure out the pastor’s theological perspective and his alma mater. As I was collecting evidence, I noticed several points of interest. A statement at the bottom of the bulletin made an impassioned plea for more people to help in various ministries. The motivational tagline at the end said, “Come join us as we build God’s kingdom.” Interesting. Using a theology of the kingdom to motivate ministry service.

I peered into the church library and spotted the Left Behind series prominently displayed. Interesting. At the end of the service, the pastor announced that they would soon begin a study of Daniel. At this point I was certain the pastor was most likely pre-millennial in theology. Read more about Thy Kingdom Come? The Kingdom, the Church, & Social Justice (Part 1)

Graves, Landmarkism and the Kingdom of God (Part 5)

(Read the entire series.)

The clear implications of J.R. Graves’ ecclesiology was that local Baptist churches have been the sole repository of biblical faith and practice since the time of Jesus Christ.

On this account the Baptists may be considered the only Christian community which has stood since the apostles, and as a Christian society which has preserved pure the doctrine of the gospel through all ages.1

Moreover, Graves believed that he could not, in good conscience, even recognize non-Baptists as Christian brethren. In July of 1851, one of the adopted “Cotton Grove Resolutions” asked, “Can we consistently address as brethren those professing Christianity, who not only have not the doctrine of Christ and walk not according to his commandments, but are arrayed in direct and bitter opposition to them?”2 Graves was pleased to record that the answer to this question, as well as the other four under consideration, was a resounding, “No!”

On Graves’ view, as we have seen: Read more about Graves, Landmarkism and the Kingdom of God (Part 5)

Graves, Landmarkism and the Kingdom of God (Part 4)

Landmarkism and “Apostolic Succession”: a Common Misconception

It is a common charge to say that Landmarkers believe in a chain-link, almost apostolic-like succession of local churches. What saith Graves?

Landmark Baptists very generally believe that for the Word of the Living God to stand, and for the veracity of Jesus Christ to vindicate itself, the kingdom which He set up “in the days of John the Baptist,” has had an unbroken continuity until now.1

This makes good sense, from Graves’ point of view. However, he takes great pains to emphasize he is not speaking of an apostolic succession of churches.2 So, what on earth does he mean? Read more about Graves, Landmarkism and the Kingdom of God (Part 4)

Graves, Landmarkism and the Kingdom of God (Part 3)

(Part 3 considers more of the implications of Graves’ doctrine of the church. Read the series so far.)

Implication #3 – All Non-Baptist Ministers are False Ministers

Graves wrote, “If Baptist preachers are scriptural ministers, Pedobaptists certainly are not, and vice versa, since two things unlike each other cannot be like the same thing—scriptural.”1 One should not be surprised that Graves made this leap. After all, if local Baptist churches are the only “true churches” which accurately represent Christ’s Kingdom, then it naturally follows that only the Baptist ministers of these “true churches” are legitimate ministers of the gospel. Graves wrote:

Nothing could be more inconsistent than to admit those preachers into our pulpit who hold and teach doctrines, on account of which we would exclude both from our pulpits and our churches, any minister of our own denomination.2

This is a startling proclamation by itself, but Graves was even more explicit elsewhere: Read more about Graves, Landmarkism and the Kingdom of God (Part 3)

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