Are Denominations Worth It? Tom Ascol & Others Answer

Journal_magazine_MayJun9Marks asked a roundtable of pastors the same question: Are denominations worth it? Here are their answers:

Tom Ascol answers:

Are denominations worth it? That depends on what your definition of “it” is. It is obviously valuable to cooperate for common causes that are germane to their mission. The New Testament points to the financial cooperation of churches in Macedonia, Achaia and Galatia (1 Cor. 16:12 Cor. 8:1-7), the doctrinal cooperation between the churches in Jerusalem and Antioch (Acts 15:1-35), and the missionary cooperation referenced in 2 Corinthians 8:19. So cooperation among local churches is obviously biblical and can be beneficial in many practical ways.

However, such cooperation is not dependent on any particular denominational structure. That has never been truer than in our present day of instant and multi-faceted communication. The emergence of so many affinity networks among churches over the last ten years is a testimony to that.

A denomination of churches, such as the Southern Baptist Convention to which my church belongs, is not a church and thus lacks ecclesial authority. But it can still be “worth it” to the extent that it helpfully assist churches by providing avenues for cooperative ventures in a wide variety of ministry opportunities.

Tom Ascol is the senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida.

Read the other answers from Tim Cantrell, Tim Keller, Matt O’Reilly, Richard Phillips, and Carl Trueman here.

Southern Baptists, The Sandy Creek Association and The John 3:16 Conference

sandy_creek-300x187Southern Baptists, The Sandy Creek Association and The John 3:16 Conference.

As recently as The John 3:16 Conference, it has been asserted that the Sandy Creek Association was less Calvinistic and that there were two strains of Baptists that fed into the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention one more Arminian, and the other confessionally Calvinistic;

“Caner noted that Baptist churches from the historical lineage of the Sandy Creek Baptist Association practiced revivalistic evangelism methods 40 years prior to the birth of Charles Finney, who is often credited with originating them during the Second Great Awakening.

This strand of Baptist life, Caner said, ran concurrent with the stronger Calvinistic one from the Philadelphia Baptist Association and both have existed within Southern Baptist life since the founding of the convention.

Caner asserted that much of the theological disunity could be resolved if there was more evangelistic methodological unity, particularly using an altar call.” (Source)

In 2006, the Founders Journal dedicated an entire edition to The Sandy Creek controversy, known as “Sandy Creek Revisited”:

Sandy Creek Revisited

The Raw Calvinism of the North Carolina Separates of the Sandy Creek Tradition

Shubal Stearns and the Separate Baptist Tradition







Founders Blog Getting Some Major Changes

Tom Ascol post new changes to the Founder’s Blog:

I am happy to announce that, beginning today, the Founders Blog is becoming a group project. Men who share the core convictions of Founders Ministries have signed on, under the leadership of Dr. Tom Hicks, to revitalize the blog. Our hope is to make it more active and interactive by posting more regularly and addressing issues more quickly than has happened in recent years.

For now, the new contributors are:

• Dr. Tom Hicks, Pastor of Discipleship, Morningview Baptist Church, Montgomery, AL (Tom is the team leader of the blog).

• Dr. Fred Malone, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Clinton, LA

• Dr. Tom Nettles, Professor of Historical Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY

• Dr. Phil Newton, Pastor, South Woods Baptist Church, Memphis, TN

• Dr. Kenneth Puls, Director of Publications and the Study Center for Founders Ministries, Cape Coral, FL

• Dr. Jeff Robinson, Pastor, Philadelphia Baptist Church, Birmingham, AL

I will also continue to contribute.

Find out more at the Founders Blog.

Founders Ministries exists to work for the recovery of the gospel and the biblical re-formation of local churches.