In this interview, Dr. Tom Ascol asks Dr. Tom Nettles about the beginnings of the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Nettles, as a well-respected baptist historian, considers three things present at the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention worth recovering.
With the resurgence of reformed theology has come a rediscovery of the doctrine of Christian liberty. This doctrine is important for spiritual growth and health because, as Paul succinctly put it in Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”…
Quite simply, Christian liberty is the freedom to live in ways that God that has not restricted by His commandments. As the Second London Confession of Faith (1689) puts it in chapter 21,
God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from human doctrines and commandments that are in any way contrary to His Word or not contained in it. So, believing such doctrines, or obeying such commands out of conscience, is a betrayal of true liberty of conscience. Requiring implicit faith or absolute and blind obedience destroys liberty of conscience and reason as well (paragraph 2).
What God has commanded we must insist be done and do ourselves. What God has forbidden, we must insist not be done and not do. What God has neither commanded nor forbidden we are free to do or not do. Obviously, misunderstanding God’s law will inevitably lead to misunderstanding of Christian liberty.
Start by telling us how long your church has used the 1689 Confession.
Since 1989 Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida has been guided by a commitment to the 1689 (Second London) Confession of Faith. We adopted that confession as a detailed expression of our doctrinal commitments as a church and for the purpose of guiding us in the selection of officers, teachers and other leaders in the church. We use the edition that is published by the elders of Grace Baptist Church in Carlisle, PA, but also allow for the use of the Carey edition, entitled A Faith to Confess. This latter edition employs modern language and is more easily read by some.
How does using a confession of faith benefit a church body?
A church can receive great benefit from properly using a (or more than one) confession of faith. By adopting a confession of faith a clear statement is made that on certain matters of faith and practice the church is pre-committed. That is, the church declares, “We are not looking for truth in these areas, we believe that we have found the truth of God’s Word on these subjects and this is what our views are.” This kind of pre-commitment is very useful in times of doctrinal uncertainty or controversy. If some members come to convictions that are contrary to the church’s confession, then those members can be addressed on the basis of what the church has previously stated to be its views. Further, those seeking to join the church have in the confession a clear declaration of what can be expected in the preaching and teaching ministry.
A good confession can help promote the unity of the church. Opinions are not all equally valid and where there exists in a church a common commitment to a list of doctrinal convictions, those views that deviate from or contradict that commitment can be readily recognized and addressed. No church can long survive if it must continually reevaluate each and every doctrine when at once it is questioned.
A good confession can also help a church grow spiritually. Such a confession represents the collective wisdom of trusted teachers. It can prove to be a great source of instruction for those who are committed to understanding and applying biblical truth. A confession serves as a reminder of what God has taught others whose lives and views we respect. It can be consulted as a guide in Bible study, or can actually provide an outline for a doctrinal study of the Word.
What are the doctrinal strengths of the Second London Confession [2LC]?
The doctrinal strengths of the 2LC are seen in the comprehensiveness of its thirty-two chapters. Matters related to the heart of salvation are addressed in detail in at least twelve of those chapters, covering everything from “God’s Covenant” (chapter 7) to the “Assurance of Grace and Salvation” (chapter 18).
In addition to these soteriological chapters, the confession also treats matters related to the life and health of a local church. Twelve chapters address the Bible’s teachings on the law, gospel, Christian liberty, worship, the Sabbath, oaths, civil government, marriage, the church, communion of the saints and the ordinances (chapters 19–30).
In addition, chapters on authority (1), the nature and sovereignty of God (2–5), sin (5) and last things (31, 32) are included. All of these subjects are important to the spiritual vitality of individual believers and churches. As a believer grows in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, these are matters that he will discover he must develop opinions and perhaps even convictions on. It is very helpful for a local church to state plainly its position on these matters. Members can expect the teaching and preaching ministries of the church to be within these confessional boundaries. The confession can also be used as an excellent tool for the systematic study of biblical doctrines. The insights of those who have gone before us and whose testimonies have proven faithful are invaluable aids in study and growth…
The rest contain answers to the following questions:
Do you think that the length of the articles is helpful or confusing?
How does it serve in the process of a person becoming a church member?
Do pastors/elders relate differently to the 2LC than those members that are not so called?
How does it serve in the educational process of the church?
How does it serve in the discipline of the church?
How is it related to biblical exposition in the church?
This is an article that Tom Ascol wrote nine years ago, but last week he tweeted out that it “seems relevant the day after Dylan Roof murdered 9 people in church.”
Through the influences of both theological and secular humanism the modern American mind long ago jettisoned any belief in human depravity. Thus, as Rabbi Kushner has widely taught, when bad things happen it is “good people” who must grapple with the question of “why?”
His views simply reflect contemporary thinking, which, when it comes to the issue of evil inevitably begins with the presupposition that man is basically good. After all, look at the many beneficial things the human race has accomplished. We are constantly reminded of the vast advances being made in science, technology, medicine, and education. Surely the examples that can be cited from these and other fields of human endeavor reflect a nature that is, at least, pretty good.
This assumption renders one ill-prepared to deal with the reality of moral evil in the world. Explanations must be sought from places other than the human heart. So the blame is usually placed on some kind of social deprivation. The arguments which are offered from this wrong-headed perspective are hardly tenable, much less convincing…
For well over a decade I have expressed concerns that many conservative, Bible believing churches have in important ways lost the gospel. This concern has been met with varying degrees of incredulity by certain sectors of the evangelical world, most notably, some of the very ones that provoked my evaluation.
Though things have improved from fifteen years ago to today, there is still ample evidence that my concerns remain well-founded.
For the sake of clarity let me reiterate the essence of my concern. The gospel is all about Jesus Christ—who He is, what He has done and why that matters. As Jesus Himself said, the Scriptures bear witness to Him (John 5:39) and that the Prophets and Moses wrote about Him (Luke 24:44; cf. v. 27). The whole Bible—not just the New Testament—is a Christian book and unless every part of it is read as revealing Jesus Christ then it has been misread.
Too often, Scripture is treated more along the lines of an inspired version of Aesop’s Fables than the revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When this happens the Bible becomes little more than a source for tips on success and happiness. Rather than recognizing it as the revelation of Christ it is treated as the basis of moralistic principles. When that happens, the gospel is lost…
Dr. Tom Nettles, Professor of Historical Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Dr. Tom Ascol, Pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Cape Coral, Florida & Executive Director of Founders Ministries.
Friday, June 19
6:30 PM: Dr. Nettles, “Lessons about Christian life from Baptist History”
8:00 PM: Dr. Ascol, “Forward Toward our Heritage”
Saturday, June 20
9:00AM: Dr. Ascol, “Early Southern Baptist Evangelism”
10:15 AM: Dr. Nettles, “The Purifying Power of Controversy in Baptist Life”
1:00 PM: Dr. Ascol, “Why Theology Matters to Worship”
2:15 PM: Dr. Nettles, “The Importance of a Singular Vision in the Ministry of J. P. Boyce”
3:00 PM: Q&A
Sunday, June 21
9:00 AM: Dr. Nettles, “Spurgeon: Christ’s Work in the Covenant of Redemption”
10:15 AM: Dr. Ascol, “Getting the Gospel Right”
Tickets go on sale to the public April 15, 2015. Buy here.
Tickets cost $25 per person, plus fees & any applicable taxes
Pastors and their families may attend for free.
Child care not provided
Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Tom Ascol, Executive Director of Founders Ministries, author, and pastor, joins the Spin Crew for a riveting conversation on Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention. Are Calvinists and Baptists so oil-and-water after all? Tom speaks on why Baptists do what they do, and the Gang gets down to business asking some important questions: Are all southerners die-hard tailgaters or does Tom Ascol break the mold? And when will he retire to that Harley Davidson he deserves? But most important, will Tom reprimand our three hosts for leaving their Baptist roots? So much to discuss, so little time. It’s another conversation that’ll have your head spinning!
In conjunction with the podcast they are giving away “The Five Points of Calvinism [from the 1974 Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology] by Roger Nicole as a free audio download from The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.” The discount is applied at checkout.
The 1990-2013 issues of ‘The Founders Journal‘, 94 in all, are currently gathering interest in Pre-Pub to see if this collection becomes a Logos resource.
Committed to historic Southern Baptist principles, the Founders Journal promotes the doctrines of grace and their application in the local church. This collection gathers a quarter century of theological scholarship for students, pastors, and church leaders seeking to recover the gospel of grace and work for the spiritual health and reformation of local churches. Containing both classic and contemporary articles, book reviews, and editorials, as well as news and letters, this journal is both a link to Southern Baptist heritage, and a valuable tool for modern church ministry…
When an atom is split, its overall mass is reduced and a tremendous amount of energy is released. The results, graphically demonstrated by the two atomic bombs that ended World War II, can be massively destructive, with effects that linger for generations.
The reactions that result from atom splits have their counterparts in the spiritual realm with church splits. When a congregation experiences division, the consequences are often devastating, widespread, and long lasting.
The sinful severing of relationships always breeds betrayal and disillusionment. In a church, where members relate to each other as interdependent components of one body (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:12-30; Eph. 4:25), the pain caused by schism can also give rise to mistrust and cynicism, two emotional weeds that, if not uprooted, will prevent the kind of love and vulnerability that are essential to genuine gospel fellowship…
When a church splits, many people are inevitably hurt by sinful attitudes and actions. On such occasions, we must remember that our Master knows what this is like and has shown us how to respond (1 Peter 2:19-25). As those who have been forgiven, we must forgive. As those who may have participated in sin, we must repent, remembering that this is precisely why Jesus died.
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.
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.
Does Trinitarian baptism join you to the New Covenant? Does it join you to Christ? Does it make you a brother or sister in Christ with everyone else who has likewise been baptized, even if you hold to a false gospel? Are Roman Catholics our brothers and sisters in Christ by baptism, but not by confession of faith? These are the issues debated by Douglas Wilson of Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho and James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries.