“…Thus many of us seem to be as men without a country, or as odd individualists in other fellowships. Yet we do not relish the spirit of total independency which is plagued with weakness. Perhaps it is time to begin a Fellowship of like-minded brethren for mutual edification and encouragement…” – Walter J. Chantry, 1966
It is possible to posit a variety of dates for the beginning of the Reformed Baptist movement in America. The first of the modern Reformed Baptist churches was started in 1951. The same church adopted the 1689 Confession in 1958. Ernie Reisinger and Walt Chantry met Al Martin for the first time in 1965. However, if the question is when a movement of churches began, the answer must be fifty years ago today – June 7, 1966.
That day, which in 1966 also fell on a Tuesday, was marked by the opening of the first of the Carlisle Pastors Conferences which were the first attempt to form a more formal communion among those churches which subscribed to the 1689 Confession. The conferences were hosted by Grace Baptist Church of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, of which Chantry was pastor. The reason is expressed in the quote above, drawn from the letter of invitation sent to those Calvinistic Baptists known to the Carlisle church…
By showing that the original signers of the confession were evangelistic and missions-minded and by showing that those who held to the confession in North America were also evangelistic and missions-minded, it is hoped that we can lay to rest the mistaken notion that those who held to the 1689 Baptist Confession and its theological descendants in America – the Philadelphia and Charleston Confessions – were unconcerned and uninvolved in the work of missions and church planting.
Published by Reformed Baptist Faith and Family Ministry
Reformed Baptist Faith & Family (RBFF) is a non-profit Christian printing and publishing ministry, which exists to provide the Churches of Jesus Christ with quality resources aimed at equipping, exhorting and encouraging her members while remaining committed to the biblical truths as preserved in the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689 Baptist Confession).
The Baptist Story is a narrative history spanning over four centuries of a diverse group of people living among distinct cultures on separate continents while finding their identity in Christ and expressing their faith as Baptists. Baptist historians Anthony Chute, Nathan Finn, and Michael Haykin highlight the Baptist transition from a despised sect to a movement of global influence. Each chapter includes stories of people who made this history so fascinating. Although the emphasis is on the English-speaking world, The Baptist Story integrates stories of non-English-speaking Baptists, ethnic minorities, women, and minority theological traditions, all within the context of historic, orthodox Christianity.
This volume provides more than just the essential events and necessary names to convey the grand history. It also addresses questions that students of Baptist history frequently ask, includes prayers and hymns of those who experienced hope and heartbreak, and directs the reader’s attention to the mission of the church as a whole. Written with an irenic tone and illustrated with photographs in every chapter, The Baptist Story is ideally suited for graduate and undergraduate courses, as well as group study in the local church.
Hardcover: 512 pages Publisher: B&H Academic (August 15, 2015) Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.3 inches
In the video interview below recorded at the 2014 Annual ETS Conference in San Diego, CA, authors Anthony L. Chute, Nathan A. Finn and Michael A. G. Haykin discuss their recently released volume, The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement.
Michael Haykin wrote the chapters on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Baptists, Anthony Chute authored the section on nineteenth-century Baptists, and Nathan Finn concluded with the twentieth century and beyond.
“It may be surprising for your American listeners to hear, but Canada truly needs mission work being done here… If your looking for a mission field you have one, right next door, above you, in Canada.”
On episode 94 of our interviewpodcast we have Pastors Raymond Perron, Chris Powell, and Pascal Denault on to tell us all about the Reformed Baptist movement in Canada.
Getting to know Pastors Raymond & Powell (we previously got to know Denault on episode #2)
History of the Reformed Baptist movement in Canada (French/English)
Present state of the movement (larger movement, associations, training, etc.)
Interview #94 - The Reformed Baptist Movement in Canada: Past & Present - Denault, Perron, Powell [Audio Podcast][ 1:16:25 | 52.47 MB ]Play Now | Play in Popup | Download
The Baptist Story is a narrative history of a diverse group of people spanning over four centuries, living among distinct cultures on separate continents, while finding their common identity in Christ and expressing their faith as Baptists. Baptist historians Anthony Chute, Nathan Finn, and Michael Haykin highlight the Baptist transition from a despised sect to a movement of global influence. Each chapter includes stories of people who made this history so fascinating. Although the emphasis is on the English-speaking world, The Baptist Story integrates stories of non-English speaking Baptists, ethnic minorities, women, and minority theological traditions, all within the context of historic, orthodox Christianity.
This volume provides more than just the essential events and necessary names to convey the grand history. It also addresses questions that students of Baptist history frequently ask, includes prayers and hymns of those who experienced hope and heartbreak, and directs the reader’s attention to the mission of the church as a whole. Written with an irenic tone and illustrated with photographs in every chapter, The Baptist Story is ideally suited for graduate or undergraduate courses, as well as group study in the local church.
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.
Today is the 2013 Founder’s Breakfast. For those who can’t be there and have to wait for the audio to come out here is the 2012 audio to whet your appetite:
Dr. Tom Nettles spoke at the 2012 Founders Breakfast in New Orleans before the opening session of the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. In his talk, he analyzes the history of the SBC in a chiastic structure and then looks at the contemporary scene in light of this analysis. I highly recommend that you listen to it.
You may download the audio file or listen to it here, free of charge. More resources from Dr. Nettles, including his latest book, Whomever He Wills, edited with Matthew Barrett are available from the Founders website.
“The Southern Baptist Convention: Retrospect and Prospect”