When Presbyterians are first introduced to 1689 Federalism, often one of their first responses is “Oh, so you deny the visible/invisible distinction of the church?” To which we respond “No.” For example, Chris Villi says:
In one of the key statements of the book, Denault writes, “The Scriptures do not provide any possibilities of being visibly in the New Covenant without participating effectively in its substance” (p. 153). This assertion represents one of the most fundamental errors of Baptist theology. Essentially, Denault is arguing that everyone in the New Covenant is truly saved and that it is impossible for an unbeliever to be connected to the New Covenant in any sense. Denault notes that, for Particular Baptists, the New Covenant “did not have an external administration in which the non-elect were to be found” (p. 86).
Again, the denial of the possibility of unbelievers in the visible church is one of the most problematic aspects of the federalism espoused by Denault. Is it really possible to guarantee that there are no non-elect people associated with the visible church? Even more, can this idea of “regenerate membership” in the visible church be defended as biblical? Given that 1689 federalists have always been convinced that true believers cannot lose their salvation, the very existence of a New Testament command for church discipline and excommunication contradicts their position.
1._____ The catholic or universal church, which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ, the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
( Hebrews 12:23; Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:10, 22, 23;Ephesians 5:23, 27, 32 )
2._____ All persons throughout the world, professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ according unto it, not destroying their own profession by any errors everting the foundation, or unholiness of conversation, are and may be called visible saints; and of such ought all particular congregations to be constituted.
( 1 Corinthians 1:2; Acts 11:26; Romans 1:7; Ephesians 1:20-22 )
So where is the confusion coming from? It’s the difference between de jure and de facto.
[Latin, In law.] Legitimate; lawful, as a Matter of Law. Having complied with all therequirements imposed by law.
De jure is commonly paired withde facto, which means “in fact.” In the course of ordinaryevents, the term de jure is superfluous. For example, in everyday discourse, when onespeaks of a corporation or a government, the understood meaning is a de jurecorporation or a de jure government.
A de jure corporation is one that has completely fulfilled the statutory formalities imposedby state corporation law in order to be granted corporate existence. In comparison, a de facto corporation is one that has acted in Good Faithand would be an ordinarycorporation but for failure to comply with some technical requirements.
[Latin, In fact.] In fact, in deed, actually.
This phrase is used to characterize an officer, a government, a past action, or a state of affairs that must be accepted for all practicalpurposes, but is illegal or illegitimate. Thus,an office, position, or status existing under a claim or color of right, such as a de factocorporation. In this sense it is the contrary of de jure, which means rightful,legitimate, just, or constitutional. Thus, an officer, king, orgovernmentde facto is one thatis in actual possession of the office or supreme power, but by usurpation, or withoutlawful title
How does using a Confession of Faith benefit a church body? What are some of the strengths of the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689? Do pastors/elders relate differently 2LCF than church members that don’t hold office? How does the Confession serve in cases of church discipline? These are some of the questions Dr Tom Ascol addresses from the perspective of a pastor in the 35 minute lecture below.
Video includes how Pastor Tom Ascol implemented the 1689 back at his church in 1989, plus a time of Q&A.
Date: 11 April 2015 (Sat) Time: 2pm – 5pm Guest Lecturer: Sam Waldron Topic : (A) Covenant of Works (B) Difference between Old and New Covenant
Date: 1 May 2015 (Friday, Public Holiday) Time: 10am – 4pm Guest Lecturer: Sam Waldron Topic : Second London Confession of Faith Chapter 9: Of Free Will , Second London Confession of Faith Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling
In this three part lectures series below, Dr Tom Ascol expounds the doctrine of the church as set forth in the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, and he draws out and applies many of the abiding principles that are relevant for the church in our day. These lectures are part of thirty lectures offered in the course HT 501 Creeds & Confessions. If you’d like the audit the entire course or take it for credit, click here.
We’ve been hard at work converting Conrad Mbewe’s Foundations for the Flock: Truths about the Church for All the Saints over to eBook, and today we’re happy to announce its release. Please check it out over at our website.
A Brief Introduction to Conrad and this book
In recent years Conrad Mbewe has become well known as a preacher around the world. His clear exposition and powerful application of Scripture has earned him a broad and attentive international audience. But what many do not know is he is also a prolific author in his own country of Zambia. He has written numerous articles and booklets to address the spiritual needs of his nation and its churches. This writing ministry, together with his powerful preaching and his experience in church-planting efforts, have made him one of the leaders of African evangelical Christianity. From the wide assortment of his work we have gathered together his more substantial material dealing with the church. This title, Foundations for the Flock, is an effort to take some of his previously published material and make it available to the rest of the world. We are confident it will edify Christians of other nations just as it has done in Zambia.
This book is one of the very best on the subject of the church. Added to that is the fact that it covers some practical matters of church life that are only very rarely addressed, such as local church partnerships, etc. Any person serious about following Christ in a local church should consider reading this book. Please head over here to read our full recommendation.
What’s so special about the Granted Ministries ebooks?
Glad you asked. We’ve spent hours and had multiple people review and catch errors that may come from converting to eBook. And finally, as always, if you purchase at Granted Ministries you get both an ePub and Kindle version, enough licenses for your entire household and pay a lower price.
Now we encourage you to go get this incredibly unique, helpful, practical book for church life. A full Granted Ministries Our Take, pdf samples, and purchase page may be found here.
*While it is more advantageous to purchase directly from us, the book is also available directly from Amazon Kindle and from Apple.
Last week, we concluded our series from the book of Acts. One of the enduring lessons that we learned was this: churches promote the gospel by planting other churches. The apostolic pattern set for us requires churches to send out men charged with preaching the gospel in order to form new assemblies. And this was the belief and practice of our baptist forefathers as Prof. Mike Renihan teaches in his article, Church Planting in Early Baptist History [PDF].
In the first part, Renihan explains that the growth of the early Particular Baptists was due to their commitment to the kind of evangelism which aimed to plant churches. Then, by citing several examples, he shows that these Baptists commissioned men not simply to preach the gospel, but also to baptize converts and establish churches. Finally, the author proves that the driving force behind this action was theological as summarized in their Confessions.
Here is a taste of what you’ll find in this article:
“The well-ordered church was so central to the redemptive purposes of God that any kind of evangelistic thrust must see, as it s highest goal, to establish new assemblies…The Baptists could not conceive of evangelism apart from church planting… Their evangelism was not merely “soul-winning” but rather a full-orbed attempt to see churches planted according to the Word of God.”
So as a church plant, we are the evangelistic effort of the churches which have supported us by their financial gifts and prayers. And we continue to be active in evangelism through the preaching of the gospel with a desire that souls are converted, baptized and added to this local church. But let us pray that the Lord would so bless this work that one day we may be able to be a church that plants other churches in the Chicagoland area and around the world.
…we respond a portion of a video (Here) put up by Steven Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church. Anderson is well known on the internet for his anti-Calvinism rants, KJV Onlyism, and for the famous incident wherein he was tazed by border agents. In his recent video he says that Calvinism is Satanic and that Calvinists are perverts.
We are joined on this broadcast with our good friend, John Samson. John is the pastor of King’s Church (www.kingschurchaz.com) and is the author of the book, ‘Twelve What Abouts: Answering Common Objections Concerning God’s Sovereignty in Election’. John speaks with us about the nature of man, God’s sovereignty, and a host of other issues.
The internet is buzzing with talk about the interview/discussion between Steven Anderson (Faithful Word Baptist Church) and Dr. James White (Alpha & Omega Ministries). Dr. James White wrote the book, “The King James Only Controversy”. Steven Anderson is a King James Version Onlyist and was interviewing Dr. White for his film on the subject. The entirety of the video (over 2-hours) was recently posted on YouTube and is available for everyone to see.
Dr. White gives us an excellent discussion about the transmission of the text of the New Testament, how we know that God has been faithful in preserving His Word, and how KJV Onlyism is inconsistent and needs to be rejected.
How did our Particular Baptist forefathers view and do evangelism? James Renihan fills us in, with the help of some materials from his 1997 doctoral dissertation, “The Practical Ecclesiology of the English Particular Baptists, 1675-1705: The Doctrine of the Church in the Second London Baptist Confession as Implemented in the Subscribing Churches.” (also see Edification & Beauty):
In order to account for the remarkable growth present among the Particular Baptists, one must remember this fact. Evangelism is at the heart of the doctrine of the church. New assemblies are planted as men and women are brought to faith in Christ. In these Confessions, practical theology is the necessary concomitant to ecclesiology. Doctrinal formulations are not merely theoretical constructions. They have very important implications and applications for life and ministry.
Historic Baptist theology brought together theology and practice. In the best puritan fashion, it was recognized that what we believe must influence what we practice, and that what we practice must rest on the theological truths we confess. These men and their churches sought to be faithful to that principle. As we strive to preach the whole counsel of God, and apply the principles of reformation in our churches, we must take hold of this perspective. Church planting ought to be at the very forefront of our agenda. In Particular Baptist Ecclesiology, the church was fundamentally the result of the personal and sovereign activity of Christ in calling sinners out of the world to salvation. From its roots in the New Testament, it was intended to be a holy community, separate from the world and focused on heaven. But, so important was the planting of churches that programs were established to promote their increase. Funds were raised, men were ordained and sent, and new congregations were organized. Does our theology of the church inform our evangelism? What more can we do?
“Pastor Says Parents Should ‘Alienate’ Gay Kids, ‘Turn Them Over To Satan’“, reads the title of a post on The Huffington Post Gay Voices from this past Friday. James White recorded two videos, over the weekend, interacting with how the Huffington Post [not linked due to links on that site] and Patheos took this:
A Screenflow video prompted by the attack made upon JM’s answer on the Huffington Post.
In May of 2014 Solid Ground Christian Books published Tom Chantry & David Dykstra’s “Holding Communion Together – The Reformed Baptists: The First Fifty Years, Divided & United”. Last week we interviewed them about their book.
Interview #57 – Tom Chantry & David Dysktra – Holding Communion Together [Audio Podcast][ 1:10:28 | 32.3 MB ]Play Now | Play in Popup | Download
From the Editor, “For nearly half a century the growth of the Reformed Baptist movement has been quite remarkable, but it has not been without controversy. Chantry and Dykstra draw from an incredible amount of documentation as they seek to explain for the first time how we have gotten where we are today. This is a history that must be told, and these men do so for the good of all who love the doctrines of grace. In addition to the 20 chapters that will make up this book, there will be several appendices containing important documents and papers written over the past 50 years.”
From Pastor Fred Malone of Clinton, Louisiana, “Sometimes, when I read the New Testament, I grieve over the problems reported about maintaining doctrinal truth and spiritual unity both in individual churches and in the Apostolic church at large. Frankly, it sounds like the church of today. Somehow, that honest history of the NT comforts me. For Christ has always used earthen vessels to build His church and He will continue to do so until He returns.”
From Pastor Doug VanderMeulen of North Dakota, “Anyone who is seriously interested in understanding the modern Reformed Baptist history in America ought to carefully read Tom Chantry and Dave Dykstra’s ‘Holding Communion Together.’ Coming to the Reformed faith after much of what is discussed in this book occurred, I found it immensely helpful in understanding my experiences as I moved into Reformed Baptist circles. It provided answers to many questions about people, events, and attitudes I encountered but for which I had no context to understand. Additionally, we live at a time when Reformed Baptist distinctives are being eroded. Churches which have doctrine, worship, polity, and piety that is foreign to the 1689 London Baptist Confession are laying claim to the moniker, ‘Reformed Baptist’. Holding Communion Together goes a long way in setting the record straight on what it means to be a Reformed Baptist. A must read, especially for elders, deacons and those wanting to understand our history.”
From Pastor Earl Blackburn’s Forward, “”First, remember, as the old saying goes, that “the best of men are men at best. Second, not all conflict is bad. Third, the Christian must be vigilant against two cunning enemies who relentlessly opposed the gospel and the progress of Christ’s Kingdom: Satan and the flesh. Fourth, Christ can use weak and flawed men, even men who have great strengths coupled with glaring imperfections, to build and establish His kingdom in a raging and fallen world. Fifth. too easily, saints on earth allow ministers to come between them and eclipse the Sun of Righteousness in heaven, who is the head of the church. Sixth, and perhaps the most important lesson to be learned, is the great value and unity in confessional Christianity.”
From Pastors Chantry & Dkystra’s Introduction, “The determination to keep these controversies quiet has led to a culture of silence among Reformed Baptists, and evil thrives in such silence. Our motto throughout the writing of this history has been, “not neutral, but always objective.” We believe that what we have written is verified in the record. Where it is not, we are certain we will be criticized. A number of large themes are addressed throughout this book. The importance of missions and the best approach to their support is one. The right approach to ministerial training is another. One of the greatest and most divisive issues among us as been authority and authoritarianism––the proper scope and exercise of church office. However, we believe that two closely related threads run through the entire tapestry of Reformed Baptist experience: association and confessional subscription.”
From the Afterward, “We are a movement without a written history. I believe that the reason for this is now evident. Our movement has been torn apart by schisms, and the largest schism involves one group of churches which holds that no action or decision of a local church ought to be subject to external scrutiny. The challenges to the presumptive historian are thus huge…Part of the reason for this is that we live in a day of moderate growth of Reformed Baptist churches––but also of explosive growth of Calvinism. Among the New Calvinists there is a different approach to theology (non-confessional), to worship (vaguely normative principle) and piety (softly antinomian) which requires Reformed Baptists to enunciate our distinctives. However, as our own movement grows and undergoes a generational shift, the confessional Reformed roots of our churches could easily be forgotten. My hope was to write a bit about the early history, to touch briefly on the schisms, and to address certain current concerns…. what we have produced is a thorough ecclesiastical history of the Reformed Baptist movement, albeit written from the perspective of our shared “confessional associationalism.”
My Review: I love the engaging style this book is written in. The authors ask open-ended questions. Also, at the end of each chapter is a “Lessons Learned” section. The Appendices. This book has an excellent appendices that are a must have. This books is practical. We have theoretical ideas about subscription and ecclesiology, but what happens when we apply these to real life? From Chapter 12: Turning Out the Lights “… events forced men to become realists about associational life. In the abstract, a fellowship of absolutely autonomous, radically independent local churches was plausible. In the real world, problems arose which demanded some answer.” Recommended reading for all Reformed Baptists, Independents, and Confessional Reformed Paedobaptists.
The Confession On Associations + Associationalism In Practice [Jim Renihan] There may be some who read the words of our last post, and have no difficulty accepting what has been written, but who argue that this type of oneness is demonstrated through conferences, pastors fellowships and personal friendships. Nothing else is necessary, and anything more is an intrusion upon the rights of the local church and without historical support. They have been led to believe that the early Baptist associations were more like meetings for fellowship than structured, formal and active organizations. But such notions are untrue. Perhaps the best way to illustrate this is to consider the theological terminology used to support the concept of associationalism in the 1689 Confession.
Some Objections [Against Associationalism] Considered pt. 1-3 [Dr. James Renihan] Proponents of this methodology in effect argue that the evidence from the Baptist usage of the term is irrelevant, and that priority must be given to the intention of the authors of the Savoy Platform. It implies that the Baptists, when employing the same language as the Savoy document, of necessity must mean exactly the same thing in every case. They could not adopt words or phrases, and invest them with a more technical meaning than may be implied in the original document. But this is clearly a non sequitur. If it can be demonstrated that the Baptists used the word in a more technical sense than did the Congregationalists this does not in any way enervate their declarations of agreement with the Savoy divines. It simply reflects the polysemous nature of words. No one would deny that the semantic range of the word “communion” incorporates the sense(s) argued for by those who differ with us, nor that the connotation in the Confessional statement (in a secondary manner) bears these senses. But the more technical usage consistently maintained in their associational documents, argues for a technical denotation in the Confession. The evidence from the Baptist usage alone demonstrates that in their practice of the ecclesiology of these statements, association is implied. It is not merely one of the means of holding communion, it was the quintessential means of doing so. Whatever sense “communion” held for the Independents, for the Baptists, in contexts referring to inter-church relationships, the word had a technical sense.
When it comes to ethnic diversity, one of the most common refrains in our culture is that 11AM to 12Noon on Sundays is the most segregated hour of the week. Such statements understandably raise important questions about our churches and ministries and whether they are focused enough on ethnic diversity.
However, African-American pastor Voddie Baucham, who leads Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas, is concerned about our culture’s incessant push for diversity–what he calls “cherished pluralism.” In a recent interview with Ministry and Leadership, the magazine of Reformed Theological Seminary, Voddie offered some very helpful insights:
Q: How does the church adapt to the multicultural, multiethnic world we now live in?
We are at a place of cherished pluralism in much of modern American Christianity, and it’s dangerous. For example, you see one church with two different ethnicities, and another church with four different ethnicities, and you think the one with four different ethnicities has to be doing a better job of church, right? It may be, though, that that’s the neighborhood they are in, and they are no more welcoming or loving to people different than them. Or those four different ethnicities are broken up in four different pockets and they are not sharing community like they ought.
So, I’m very cautious about the push for diversity. I desire that all people would hear the gospel and be saved, that God would bring to his church all those whom he would call. The minute I start playing the diversity game, I’m in danger of stepping over certain lost people in favor of other lost people because I need to ramp up my ethnic diversity quota. And that’s usually problematic.
Q: How is it problematic?
In a number of ways–first, because we change our priorities. Instead of being set on faithfulness, now we’ve added another category. Faithfully preaching the gospel and seeing God bring whoever he brings is no longer enough. Now we have too many white people being saved, or too many black people being saved. Now I’m a failure because as the gospel is being preached and as God is drawing people, they don’t look like what we think we ought to look like. It’s not a biblical category of measuring success.
If there’s a problem with our not being welcoming or with being prejudiced toward people, then that’s sin, and we need to deal with that. But our goal is faithfulness in the gospel.
Q: It has been said that 11Am to noon on Sundays is the most segregated hour in our country. How valid is that statement, and how much of a concern is it?
Is it a valid statement? Probably. Is it reason for alarm? No, because people tend to go to church with people who are like them, and that’s always been the case. I don’t think we are seeing today what we saw in the 40′s and 50′s, where people were segregated because they were refused entrance. That’s simply not the case. So is the statement true? Sure, it could be. But is it better in those other hours of the week when people are together because they are forced together?
Inherently, in that statement, we’re saying that the church is wrong and awful because we are not seeing the demographic breakdown that other institutions are seeing during the week…Now we’re thinking we’re inferior to an institution that is forcing diversity on people, and that is simply not the case. If there’s sinful separation, that’s a problem, but the fact that people tend to congregate with people who are like them in a variety of ways is not necessarily a problem.
” I am always blessed by the faithful contributions which come in from our congregations. But perhaps there is an area where our giving could be increased…”
After giving a personal story James Renihan concludes:
Pastors, do you encourage your men to consider the gospel ministry? Do you spend personal time with them and encourage them to pray about this? Do your elders likewise seek to press this matter upon your young men? Do they urge these men to consider the possibility of Christ’s call? And what about your people? Do they esteem ministers? Will they rejoice when one of their own gives himself to serve the Lord in the ministry? I am convinced that our churches must place a higher priority on cultivating their men for service in the church.
Anthony Burgess, a member of the Westminster Assembly, preached CXLV sermons on John 17, five of which were concerned with the topic of unity among Christians… It is well presented and well worth reading. I also find this material, including the subsequent sermons, to be excellent arguments and information for the practice of associationalism (although Burgess of course would not have taken it in that direction).
Although Burgess wouldn’t apply the above to associations Sam does. The series concludes:
To conclude with a few applications to confessional associations:
1. Where there are differences, we must deal fairly with the disagreeing party. This requires both parties to state their positions clearly, so as to be understood positively and negatively (i.e., where there is agreement and disagreement).
2. We should prize the doctrinal accountability of an association, and we should prize the wealth of teaching gifts within an association. Beyond prizing these things, we should take advantage of them and submit ourselves to them.
3. We should defend the fundamentals (that which we confess), and avoid disputing the rest.
4. We should root out pride, promote humility, and pray to God that he would give us one heart established on one faith immersed by one baptism serving one Lord in one Spirit. Let our unity begin and end with Christ, his truth, his commands, and his ways.