We Interrupt This Series, Part Doi

NickOfTime

Read Part Unu.

I’m Back

Romanians know how to hold a graduation service. Combined with a Sunday morning worship service, the commencement lasted, non-stop, somewhere north of four hours. It featured two full-length sermons and a half-dozen or more exhortations and extended testimonies, including one in which the Old Testament professor quoted the entire first psalm in Hebrew from memory. A mixed choir and a mandolin orchestra each presented three musical selections. The service, which ended at 1:00 PM, was followed by a formal dinner and then an afternoon service at 4:00. Uncharacteristically, the Romanians kept the afternoon service under two hours in length, but compensated with another feast afterwards.

Twenty-one men received seminary degrees. These men were almost all pastors, and they came from all across the country of Romania. They minister in different contexts: some to Romanians, some to Hungarians, some to the Roma. A few of them are assistant pastors or co-pastors of large churches, but most of them pastor multiple congregations.

Most Baptists in Romania are affiliated with that nation’s Baptist Union. American missionaries often prefer to limit their contact with Baptist Union pastors. As an educational institution, however, we have chosen to train pastors of Baptist Union churches. The line between Union and unregistered churches was not clear, even under communism. One pastor might be ministering to Baptist Union churches and unregistered churches at the same time. After the dictatorship was overthrown, virtually all of the unregistered churches entered the Baptist Union. Today, Romania has few unaffiliated Baptist churches except those that have been organized under foreign (usually American) auspices.

In fact, Romanian law makes unaffiliated churches impossible. Only recognized church bodies have a legal right to hold property or perform “churchly” functions such as baptism and communion. These laws are not always enforced, but they are on the books. In order to organize unaffiliated churches, missionaries often register them as “religious associations,” a separate, non-church category under Romanian law. Most Romanian Baptist pastors view this tactic as deceitful and unethical, so they prefer to maintain a connection with the Baptist Union.

Communism kept Western influences out of Romania. One of those influences was liberal theology, which was almost absent among Romanian Baptists. Over the past decade or so, however, some pastors (including a few of our early graduates) have sought postgraduate training in non-evangelical institutions. The result is that non-conservative theologies are just beginning to show themselves, leaving the Romanian Baptist Union in about the position in which Northern Baptists in America found themselves before 1920.

Central Seminary trains its students to spot liberal theology and to resist denominationalism and ecclesiastical power-mongering. For that reason, we are very unpopular with some Baptist Union leaders. Our rejection of Arminian theology and our advocacy of dispensational premillennialism make us even less popular.

The Baptist Union operates its own seminary across the country in Bucharest. While it recently opened graduate programs, that seminary has typically functioned at the level of a Bible college or even institute. It has been theologically vague and exegetically weak. Graduates of the Baptist Union seminary will often come to Central Seminary after they graduate. They know that we will teach them to handle the Bible.

In our history, American fundamentalists lost the battle with liberalism almost everywhere that they encountered it. There are exceptions, however. One of them is Minnesota, where R. V. Clearwaters and Minnesota Baptists managed to save not only the faith, but also the furniture. We would like to give Romanian Baptists an opportunity to keep their associational structures as well as their theological integrity.

Monday after graduation we drove into Serbia, where we met Ondrej Franka. Dr. Franka pastors a Baptist church outside of Novi Sad, and he is the president of the Baptist Union of Serbia. Interestingly enough, Dr. Franka was trained at evangelical institutions in the United States—Moody, Trinity, and Westminster. He is the rarest of all things in Eastern Europe: a Baptist who is intelligently conservative, non-Arminian, and dispensational.

The Serbian Baptist Union comprises only about seventy churches, concentrated mainly in the northern part of the country. Under Dr. Franka’s leadership, these churches have set the goal of planting ten new congregations over five years. Their church planting efforts will concentrate in the region south of the capital, Belgrade.

Dr. Franka also hopes to reestablish a training institution for pastors. The Baptist Union used to operate a seminary, but the school had to be closed, ostensibly for doctrinal deviation. Dr. Franka would like to see a school opened that would start at the institute level and eventually progress to the baccalaureate and graduate levels. He is trusting the Lord for help from America to make the school a reality. If such a training institution can be opened, it could become a center for conservatism, eternal security, and dispensationalism.

Of course, working with the Baptist Union in Serbia would be a step beyond what Central Seminary does in Romania. We work with Baptist Union pastors, but not with the Union itself. Pastor Franka is hoping for assistance that will give the Baptist Union of Serbia its own pastors’ school. Any institution that takes up this challenge will be working directly with the Serbian Baptist Union itself.

Into the 1980s it seemed impossible that the gospel could ever have free course in Eastern Europe. Then came the revolutions of 1989. At this moment, effective doors of ministry are wide open in many formerly communist countries. To be permitted to work in those fields is a remarkable blessing indeed.

On the Conversion of S. Paul

Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667

Full of wrath, his threatning breath
Belching nought, but chains and death:
Saul was arrested in his way
By a voice and a light,
That if a thousand dayes
Should joyn rayes
To beautifie one day,
It would not shew so glorious and so bright.
On his amazed eyes it night did fling,
That day might break within;
And by those beams of Faith
Make him of a childe of wrath
Become a vessel full of glory.
Lord curb us in our dark and sinful way,
We humbly pray,
When we down horrid precipices run
With feet that thirst to be undone,
That this may be our story.
Allelujah.


This essay is by Dr. Kevin T. Bauder, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, MN). Not every professor, student, or alumnus of Central Seminary necessarily agrees with every opinion that it expresses.
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There are 15 Comments

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Exciting to hear what's happening in Eastern Europe... and also a very interesting opportunity to do some things a little bit differently than was possible in US in the early days of fundamentalism. Looking forward to what the Lord is going to do over there.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

A. Carpenter's picture

Thanks for the reminder that the Church is truly bigger than we often think!

Faith is obeying when you can't even imagine how things might turn out right.

Joel Tetreau's picture

Great Report Frata!

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

LouNorm's picture

Just ran across a paper on Google titled "Edward Irving is Unnerving" and would love to see someone's reaction to it. The world is anything but boring, isn't it?! LouNorm

Prophecy Person!

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Not finding it. Can you link?

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

LouNorm's picture

I found the article "Edward Irving is Unnerving" on "Our Daily Bread" (Nov. 12) owned by Joe Ortiz, a Los Angeles media personality. Hope this helps. LouNorm

Prophecy Person!

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Ortiz’s post is here: http://ourdailybreadbyjoeortiz.blogspot.com/2009/11/renowned-prophecy-au…
It appears he is arguing that dispensationalism (and pre-trib rapture in particular) is falsified if you can trace it’s origin to an undesirable—in this case, this Irving guy. I just laugh at this stuff. It doesn’t make a particle of difference who allegedly thought of it first (Darby or Irving or whoever… especially since all the components are scattered throughout church history). The question is whether the idea answers well to Scripture. To evaluate that, I’d recommend some sources that are more focused on relevant questions.
One good example—now out of print looks like…
But it looks like some kind of revision is available….
For a case for premillennialism,

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

LouNorm's picture

I agree that what Scripture says is the most important thing in the rapture debate, but unfortunately millions of pew-sitters are greatly influenced in their theology by those who clearly have missed the mark (and have even been dishonest) in church history for one reason or another. Thomas Ice left out 49 words when he reproduced Margaret MacDonald's 1830 revelation in 1989 - the same words LaHaye omitted from it when he reproduced it in 1992, according to MacPherson. And Ice and others have a lot of selective quoting when analyzing documents - skipping over MacDonald's main point etc. And MacPherson has evidence (Google "Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal") of rampant plagiarism in the writings of many pretrib leaders including Darby, Seiss, Bullinger, Lindsey, Unger, Ryrie, Tan, Jeremiah, Missler, Falwell, Hindson, etc. - and of course there are laws against plagiarism! He also points out that Scofield was in jail for forgery, was divorced (this was long covered up), gave himself his D.D. degree etc. Even much of the Bible is history which reveals the good as well as the bad things about its heroes. Timothy says that God demands certain qualifications for church leaders - and we know that God does not approve of sweeping things under a rug. My point is: if certain leaders can be dishonest with church history or not follow the Timothy qualifications (Lindsey has three living ex-wives and is married to his 4th), how can we be sure that the same leaders are absolutely honest in their treatment of Scripture? More and more people I'm running into are abandoning pretrib for midtrib, prewrath, or posttrib. Maybe at least a taste of the tribulation is God's way of making sure He has a people "without spot or wrinkle"! What do you think? Would you be willing to undergo such a time of testing? LouNorm

Prophecy Person!

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
if certain leaders can be dishonest with church history or not follow the Timothy qualifications (Lindsey has three living ex-wives and is married to his 4th),
Just to be clear, are you suggesting that people are pretribulationist because they think other pretribulationists were perfect?

Quote:
how can we be sure that the same leaders are absolutely honest in their treatment of Scripture?
By studying the Scripture.

Quote:
Would you be willing to undergo such a time of testing?
Should we really judge the accuracy of a teaching based on what we are willing to undergo? Would being willing to undergo a time of tribulation really make a posttrib or mid trib rapture more true?

Charlie's picture

LouNorm wrote:
More and more people I'm running into are abandoning pretrib for midtrib, prewrath, or posttrib.

I have a hard time believing that there are any great numbers moving toward midtrib or prewrath. Of those who do, you (Lou) are likely to run into them, because, well, your signature states that you're a "prophecy person." Therefore, I assume you're more knowledgeable of fringe groups. Where you are influences who you meet. I'm Reformed, and about once a week I run into somebody either in person or online who has abandoned Dispensationalism for Reformed theology, but, again, that's because I'm Reformed and therefore more likely to meet those people than, say, those headed the other direction.

If I had to guess, though, based mostly on the influence of pastors and teachers and on trends in seminaries, I would guess that premillennialism is still leading by a large margin, but that Dispensational paradigms are losing ground fairly quickly and that non-pre-millennial systems are making something of a comeback.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Greg Long's picture

Lou, you sound like the people who reject calvinism in part because Calvin was involved in the burning of Servetus at the stake or reject lutheranism in part because Luther was anti-semitic.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

LouNorm's picture

I ran into a bunch of "fringe" people in two Google articles: "Famous Rapture Watchers" & "Famous Rapture Watchers - Addendum." Are there any fringe persons who would like to comment on the individuals in those articles? LouNorm

Prophecy Person!

Greg Long's picture

LouNorm wrote:
I ran into a bunch of "fringe" people in two Google articles: "Famous Rapture Watchers" & "Famous Rapture Watchers - Addendum." Are there any fringe persons who would like to comment on the individuals in those articles? LouNorm
Huh?

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
Are there any fringe persons who would like to comment on the individuals in those articles? LouNorm
First, I didn't know there were any "fringe persons" here, but then I am not sure what that means so perhaps that's why I didn't know they were here.

Second, who cares about these individuals? Why should anyone comment on them?

The "Rapture Question" is a question of biblical exegesis and correlation, not a question of "individuals in those articles." Surely you know that.

Brian Jo's picture

Charlie wrote:
I'm Reformed, and about once a week I run into somebody either in person or online who has abandoned Dispensationalism for Reformed theology, but, again, that's because I'm Reformed and therefore more likely to meet those people than, say, those headed the other direction.

You're not talking about our lunch the other day, are you? Smile

Charlie wrote:
If I had to guess, though, based mostly on the influence of pastors and teachers and on trends in seminaries, I would guess that premillennialism is still leading by a large margin, but that Dispensational paradigms are losing ground fairly quickly and that non-pre-millennial systems are making something of a comeback.

I would agree with this

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