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THE JOURNAL OF BAPTIST STUDIES VOLUME 7 (2015)

The Journal of Baptist Studies California Baptist University 8432 Magnolia Avenue Riverside, CA 92504


THE JOURNAL OF BAPTIST STUDIES Editors: Anthony Chute and Matthew Y. Emerson Book Review Editor: John Gill Board of Editors: John Crowley, Nathan Finn, Michael Haykin, James Patterson, Mark Rogers, Earl Waggoner, Doug Weaver The Journal of Baptist Studies is an electronic, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the study of Baptist history and thought. The journal is produced under the oversight of a Board of Editors representing numerous Baptist denominations and both religious and secular institutions. JBS does not advocate a particular theological or denominational agenda, but rather reflects the scholarship of individuals who identify with a number of positions and affiliations. The journal is available online for free and is independent of any institution. For submission policies and other information related to the Journal of Baptist Studies, please visit http://www.baptiststudiesonline.com. Please direct all correspondence related to the journal to Anthony Chute (achute@calbaptist.edu). Baptist Studies Online (BSO) is a website dedicated to the study of Baptist history and thought, with special emphasis on Baptists in North America. The purpose of BSO is to facilitate the scholarly study of Baptists by making available to researchers and students an online journal, a primary source library, a comprehensive collection of Baptist history-related links, and a periodically updated list of dissertation abstracts from SBC seminaries. BSO is a collaborative effort by Baptist scholars from a variety of traditions, with technical support provided by California Baptist University in Riverside, California.


The Journal of Baptist Studies 7 (2015)

THE JOURNAL OF BAPTIST STUDIES VOLUME 7 (2015) Editorial…………………………...………………………………………..1 Contributors…………………………………………………………...........3 Articles Baptists and the Unity of the Church By Christopher W. Morgan...…………………………...…….……………4 Baptists and the Holiness of the Church: Soundings in Baptist Thought By Ray Van Neste…………………………...……………………………24 Baptists and the Catholicity of the Church: Toward an Evangelical Baptist Catholicity By Matthew Y. Emerson and R. Lucas Stamps……….………………….42 Baptists and the Apostolicity of the Church By James Patterson…………………………...…………………………..67 Book Reviews Currid, John D. Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament, reviewed by Kenneth J. Turner. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .83 Freeman, Curtis W. Contesting Catholicity: Theology for Other Baptists, reviewed by R. Lucas Stamps. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 George, Timothy. Theology of the Reformers, rev. ed., reviewed by John Gill. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .91 Hays, Christopher M. and Christopher B. Ansberry, eds. Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism, reviewed by Matthew Y. Emerson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .95


Table of Contents

Holmes, Stephen R. The Quest for the Trinity: The Doctrine of God in Scripture, History and Modernity, reviewed by Michael A. G. Haykin. . . .99 Sanders, Fred. Wesley on the Christian Life: The Heart Renewed in Love, reviewed by Christopher Bosson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .101


The Journal of Baptist Studies 7 (2015)

Editorial by Anthony Chute It has been nearly forty years since Newsweek magazine published its “Year of the Evangelical” issue. The year was 1976, Jimmy Carter was president, and the words “born again” were just being introduced into the mainstream media vocabulary. Although President Carter was a member of a Southern Baptist Church, some in his own denomination were more reluctant to be identified with the larger evangelical movement. Foy Valentine, speaking on behalf of the Christian Life Commission of the SBC, famously dismissed the evangelical connection in part because of its geographical guiltby-association: “We are not evangelicals,” he declared in the Newsweek interview, “That’s a Yankee word.” Times have certainly changed since then. In 1980, Ronald Reagan siphoned the evangelical vote to defeat President Carter; and in 2012, nearly 80 years after its first issue, Newsweek became a fully digital magazine after losing its print readership to the new media. During that same period, Southern Baptists became increasingly more prominent in evangelical life. One example that is relevant to this edition of the Journal of Baptist Studies is the growing influence of Southern Baptists as members of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). A recent Baptist Press article noted that there were perhaps three Southern Baptist members of ETS in 1975. By contrast, Southern Baptist seminary representatives delivered approximately 15 percent of the 612 papers delivered at the 2014 ETS meeting in San Diego, California. This percentage actually understates their presence since it does not include presentations from other SBC entities or those from colleges and universities.1 Indeed, Tom Schreiner, professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, served as President of ETS this past term (2014), and B&H Academic increasingly has one of the largest footprints in the ETS convention hall. A Baptist Studies Session is also in place that will provide a platform for discussing broad topics from an explicitly Baptist perspective. The articles in this edition were originally presented during that session. Chris Morgan’s “Baptists and the Unity of the Church” explores the multiple ways in which unity is expressed through Baptist confessions. He demonstrates the multifaceted ways that unity has been understood, assumed and expressed; he also notes the glaring absence of welldeveloped statements on unity in recent confessions. Ray Van Neste’s article on “Baptists and the Holiness of the Church” clarifies the meaning of holiness as it applies to 1

David Roach, “ETS Meeting: ‘Southern Baptists Everywhere.” http://bpnews.net/43787/ets-meetingsouthern-baptists-everywhere . Accessed 2/11/2015.

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Editorial

members who are not fully sanctified. His emphasis on regenerate church membership and ongoing accountability expressed through covenants and church discipline provides a healthy antidote to mistaken notions of holiness. A jointly authored paper by Matt Emerson and Luke Stamps helps to put the Great Tradition in Baptist perspective. Their prescription for including creeds without becoming creedalistic, having liturgical practices without becoming ritualistic, and focusing on the spiritual life of the believer without becoming individualistic is a model of historical scholarship with contemporary application. James Patterson brings his expertise on the Landmark movement to clarify the idea of “Baptists and the Apostolicity of the Church.” He highlights the dangers of defining apostolicity according to institutional supremacy or missional practicality, positing in their stead a recovery of the gospel message for all the world to hear. Forty years ago, who would have thought that Southern Baptists would be welcome in the premier academic guild of evangelical scholars? Moreover, who would have envisioned Baptists dialoguing with the Nicene Creed’s formula of “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church”? Forty years ago, both ideas were unthinkable – just like reading an online journal that provides substantive articles and book reviews without taking one inch of space from your bookshelf. It is indeed possible to move into the future without forgetting the importance of the past. Thank you for reading this edition of the Journal of Baptist Studies.

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CONTRIBUTORS Christopher W. Morgan is Dean of the School of Christian Ministries and Professor of Theology at California Baptist University in Riverside, California. He is the author or editor of fifteen books, including, with Kendall H. Easley, The Community of Jesus (B&H, 2013) and, with Robert Peterson, the Theology in Community Series (Crossway). Ray Van Neste is Professor of Biblical Studies and Director of the R.C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. He is the author of Cohesion and Structure in the Pastoral Epistles, as well as the study notes on the Pastoral Epistles in both the ESV and HCSB Study Bibles. Matthew Y. Emerson is Chair of the Department of Arts & Sciences and Assistant Professor of Christian Studies in the Online and Professional Studies Division at California Baptist University in Riverside, CA. He is the author of Christ and the New Creation, as well as a number of essays and articles. R. Lucas Stamps is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies in the Online and Professional Studies Division at California Baptist University in Riverside, CA. He recently completed his doctorate in systematic theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and his dissertation is titled “Thy Will Be Done”: A Dogmatic Defense of Dyothelitism in Light of Recent Monothelite Proposals.” He is also the author of a forthcoming essay on the Gethsemane narrative and its relationship to dyothelitism. James Patterson is University Professor of Christian Thought and Tradition and Acting Dean of School of Theology and Missions at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. He is the author of James Robinson Graves: Staking the Boundaries of Baptist Identity.

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BAPTISTS AND THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH By Christopher W. Morgan2 Before and after I presented my paper “Baptists and the Unity of the Church” at the Evangelical Theological Society, I was bombarded with jokes and sneers. After all, Baptists are not famous for their theology of the unity of the church. Even more, Baptists are not notorious for their practice of the unity of the church. So is this topic an oxymoron? Maybe, but doesn’t that make the topic all the more important? Baptists have addressed the topic of church unity though and in a wide variety of ways. More still needs to be said, and a thorough doctrine of the unity of the church for Baptists remains to be developed.3 But before that can be done, it seems that a careful analysis of what has been said must be considered. As I began to strive to understand what Baptists have taught about the unity of the church, I quickly realized how massive the challenge is. Note the particularities in studying the unity of the church and Baptists. First, note the many-faceted applications and contexts: unity within the local church, unity in relationships among believers and families in the local church, unity within denominational agencies, unity within a denomination, unity among segments of denominations (state, associational, organizations), unity in ministry action and vision

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Christopher W. Morgan is dean and professor of theology of the School of Christian Ministries at California Baptist University in Riverside. He is the author or editor of fifteen books. 3 I have offered some preliminary thoughts on the doctrine in Christopher W. Morgan, “Toward a Theology of the Unity of the Church,” in Why We Belong: Evangelical Unity and Denominational Diversity, ed. Anthony L. Chute, Christopher W. Morgan, and Robert A. Peterson (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013), 19–36.

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(Cooperative Program, missions, etc.), unity among different denominations, unity among ethnicities and social structures, and unity with all believers in all true churches. Second, consider the breadth of sources: Baptist confessions, church covenants, catechisms, institutional documents, theological works, commentaries on key passages, pastoral books, ecclesiologiesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;let alone a wide selection of sermons by representative Baptists. Third, note the wide variety of types of Baptists and how various stripes would approach a theology of church unity differently. Fourth, consider ever-changing historical contexts and how each distinct context shapes the theology of church unity. Unity when under persecution, unity when successful, unity amidst denominational rivalry, and unity amidst evangelical marginalization all affect how unity is discussed and understood. Plus, unity would need to be evaluated in its absence by examining the all-toocommon Baptist splitsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;in denominations, organizations, and local churches. Praxis (or even the lack thereof) teaches much about theology, especially a theology of church unity. Hopefully, numerous scholars will research and publish on these wide-ranging and far-reaching avenues. This essay seeks to contribute to the discussion by focusing on the major Baptist confessions of faith, examining each and summarizing what each teaches on the doctrine of the unity of the church. In particular, the essay will survey the following ten major Baptist confessions for what they teach and suggest related to the doctrine of the unity of the church (see the full documents at www.baptiststudiesonline.com):

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1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Thomas Helwys’s Confession, 1611 First London Confession of Faith, 1644 Second London Confession, 1689 Philadelphia Confession of Faith, 1742 Principles of Faith of the Sandy Creek Association, 1758 New Hampshire Confession of Faith, 1833 Abstract of Principles, 1859 The Baptist Faith and Message, 1925, 1963, 2000

The essay will look at each confession in order, stating specific tenets related to the unity of the church and citing confession excerpts that teach it (and, when helpful for clarity, italicizing central phrases). 1. Thomas Helwys’s Confession, 1611 1.1 The church is united to Christ and to one another. That the church of Christ is a company of faithful people separated from the world by the word and Spirit of God, being knit unto the Lord and one unto another, by baptism. Upon their own confession of the faith and sins. 1.2 The church is one, yet consists of diverse particular congregations (churches). That though in respect of Christ, the Church be one, yet it consists of diverse particular congregations . . . 1.3 The local congregation is the body of Christ and a whole church, not just part of it. That though in respect of Christ, the Church be one, yet it consists of diverse particular congregations, even so many as there shall be in the World, every of which congregation, though they be but two or three, have Christ given them, with all the means of their salvation, are the body of Christ and a whole Church. And therefore may and ought, when they are come together, to Pray, Prophecy, break bread, and administer in all the holy ordinances, although as yet they have no Officers, or that their Officers should be in Prison, sick, or by any other means hindered from the Church. 1.4 Churches should not challenge any prerogative over another. That as one congregation hath Christ, so hath all. And that the Word of God comes not out from any one, neither, to any one congregation in particular. But unto every particular Church as it doth unto all the world. And therefore no church ought to challenge any prerogative over any other. 1.5 The Lord’s Supper displays our communion with Christ. That the Lord’s Supper is the outward manifestation of the Spiritual communion between Christ and the faithful mutually to declare his death until he comes.

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1.6 The members of the church should show love to one another. That the members of every Church or Congregation ought to know one another that they may perform all the duties of love one towards another both to soul and body. And especially the Elders ought to know the whole flock, whereof the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers. And therefore a Church ought not to consist of such a great multitude as cannot have particular knowledge one of another. 2. First London Confession of Faith, 1644 2.1 The unity of God is linked to the unity of one faith, one baptism. I. . . . That there is but (1 Tim. 2:5; Eph. 4:4–6; 1 Cor. 12: 4–6, 13; John 14) one God, one Christ, one Spirit, one Faith, one Baptism4 (1 Tim. 6:3, 13, 14; Gal. 1:8–9; 2 Tim. 3:15), one rule of holiness and obedience for all Saints, at all times, in all places to be observed. II. . . . In this Godhead, there is the Father, the Son, and the Spirit; being every one of them one and the same God; and therefore not divided, but distinguished one from another by their several properties; the (1 Cor. 8:6) Father being from Himself, the (Prov. 8:22–23) Son of the Father from everlasting, the (John 15:16; Gal. 4:6) Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son. 2.2 The trinity is united with all believers. XXVII. That God the Father, and Son, and Spirit, is one with (1 Thess. 1:1; John 14:10, 20; 17:21) all believers, in their (Col. 2:9, 10; 1:19; John 1:17) fullness, in (John 20:17; Heb. 2:11) relations (Col. 1:18; Eph. 5:30) as head and members (Eph. 2:22; 1 Cor. 3:16–17), as house and inhabitants, as (Isa. 16:5; 2 Cor. 11:3) husband and wife, one with Him, as (Gal. 3:26) light and love, and one with Him in His inheritance, and in all His (John 17:24) glory; and that all believers by virtue of this union and oneness with God, are the adopted sons of God, and heirs of Christ, co-heirs and joint heirs with Him of the inheritance of all the promises of this life, and that which is to come. 2.3 Christ is united with all believers. XXVIII. That those which have union with Christ, are justified from all their sins, past (John 1:7; Heb 10:14; 9:26; 2 Cor. 5:19; Rom. 3:23), present, and to come, by the blood of Christ; which justification we conceive to be a gracious and free (Acts 13:38, 39; Rom. 5:1; 3:25, 30) acquittance of a guilty, sinful creature, from all sin by God, through the satisfaction that Christ has made by His death; and this applied in the manifestation of it through faith. 2.4 The church (universal) is Christ’s spiritual kingdom on earth. XXXIII. That Christ has here on earth a spiritual Kingdom, which is the Church, which He has purchased and redeemed to Himself, as a particular inheritance.

4

Oddly, “one body” appears to be omitted from the list grounded in Ephesians 4.

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2.5 The church (visible) is a body of believers, baptized, united to Christ and to each other, by mutual agreement under Christ their head and king. XXXIII. That Christ has here on earth a spiritual Kingdom, which is the Church, which He has purchased and redeemed to Himself, as a particular inheritance: which Church, as it is visible to us, is a company of visible (1 Cor. 1:1; Eph. 1:1) saints, (Rom. 1:1; Acts 26:18; 1 Thess. 1:9; 2 Cor. 6:17; Rev. 18:18) called and separated from the world, by the Word and the (Acts 2:37 with Acts 10:37) Spirit of God, to the visible profession of the faith of the Gospel, being baptized into the faith, and joined to the Lord, and each other, by mutual agreement, in the practical enjoyment of the (Rom. 10:10; Acts 2:42; 20:21; Mat. 18:19, 20; 1 Peter 2:5) ordinances, commanded by Christ their head and King. 2.6 The church (visible) is to have communion here with the saints. XXXIV. To this Church He has (Matt. 28:18–20; 2 Cor. 6:18) made His promises, and given the signs of His Covenant, presence, love, blessing, and protection: here are the fountains and springs of His heavenly grace continually flowing forth; (Isa. 8:16; 1 Tim. 3:15; 4:16; 6:3, 5; Acts 2:41, 47; Song of Sol. 4:12; Gal. 6:10; Eph. 2:19) thither ought all men to come, of all estates, that acknowledge Him to be their Prophet, Priest, and King, to be enrolled amongst His household servants, to under His heavenly conduct and government, to lead their lives in His walled sheepfold, and watered garden, to have communion here with the saints, that they may be made to be partakers of their inheritance in the Kingdom of God. 2.7 The church is to keep a holy and orderly communion (thus, unity in the local church) through love, holiness, discipline, watching one another, and pastoral oversight. XLII. Christ has likewise given power to His whole church to receive in and cast out, by way of Excommunication, any member; and this power is given to every particular congregation, and not one particular person, either member or officer, but the whole (Acts 2:47; Rom. 16:2; Matt. 18:17; 1 Cor. 5:4; 2 Cor. 2:6–8). XLIII. And every particular member of each Church how excellent, great, or learned soever, ought to be subject to this censor and judgment of Christ; and the church ought with great care and tenderness, with due advise to proceed against her members (Matt. 18:16–18; Acts 11:2, 3; 1 Tim. 5:19–21). XLIV. And as Christ for the (Acts. 20:27, 28; Heb. 13:17, 24; Matt. 24:25; 1 Thess. 5:14) keeping of this church in holy and orderly communion, places some special men over the church, who by their office are to govern, oversee, visit, watch; so likewise for the better keeping thereof in all places, by the members, He has given (Mark 13:34, 37; Gal. 6:1; 1 Thess. 5:11; Jude 3, 20; Heb. 10:34–35; 12:15) authority, and laid duty upon all, to watch over one another. 2.8 Church members should value Christian communion and should not separate for faults and sins without patience and following the process of redressing issues, as the visible church will always be subject to human failings.

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XLVI. Thus being rightly gathered, established, and still proceeding in Christian communion, and obedience of the Gospel of Christ, none ought to separate for faults and corruptions, which may, and as long as the church consists of men subject to failings, will fall out and arise amongst them, even in true constituted churches, until they have in due order sought redress thereof (Rev. 2, 3; Acts 15:12; 1 Cor. 1:10; Eph. 2:16; 3:15–6; Heb. 10:25; Jude 15; Matt. 18:17; 1 Cor. 5:4, 5). 2.9 The visible church is distinct and a whole body in itself, but should also walk with other visible churches. XLVII. And although the particular congregation be distinct and several bodies, every one a compact and knit city in itself; yet are they all to walk by one and the same Rule, and by all means convenient to have the counsel and help one of another in all needful affairs of the church, as members of one body in the common faith under Christ their only Head (1 Cor. 4:17; 14:33, 36; 16:1; Matt. 28:20; 1 Tim. 3:15; 6:13–14; Rev. 22:18–19; Col. 2:6, 19; 4:16). 2.10 The visible churches should walk together by the same rule, as well as find counsel and help from each other concerning various needs of the church. See quote above. 2.11 The exhortation for visible church relationships is grounded on each being a member of one body (thus, the unity of the church) in the common faith under Christ the only head. See quote above. 3. Second London Confession, 16895 3.1 Unity with other Protestants (here particularly the Church of England) is real, is good, and is sought (and is needed since the Baptists desired not to be persecuted). It is now many years since divers of us (with other sober Christians then living and walking in the way of the Lord that we professe) did conceive our selves to be under a necessity of Publishing a Confession of our Faith, for the information, and 5

For the context of these confessions, see James M. Renihan, “Confessing the Faith in 1644 and 1689” http://www.reformedbaptistinstitute.org/articles/confessing.htm: “This Confession, influential as it is, may perhaps best be understood against its historical and theological backgrounds. It did not appear out of the blue, the product of a sudden burst of theological insight on the part of an author or authors, but in the tradition of good Confession making, it is largely dependent on the statements of earlier Reformed Confessions. A quick glance will demonstrate that it is based, too a large degree, on that most Puritan of documents, the Westminster Confession of Faith of 1647. A closer inspection will reveal that it is even more intimately related to the revision of the Westminster Confession made by John Owen and others in 1658, popularly known as the Savoy Declaration and Platform of Polity. In almost every case the editors of the Baptist Confession follow the revisions of the Savoy editors when they differ from the Westminster document. In addition, the Baptists make occasional use of phraseology from the First London Confession. When all of this material is accounted for, there is very little justify that is new and original to the 1677/89 Confession.”

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satisfaction of those, that did not throughly understand what our principles were, or had entertained prejudices against our Profession, by reason of the strange representation of them, by some men of note, who had taken very wrong measures, and accordingly led others into misapprehensions, of us, and them: and this was first put forth about the year, 1643. in the name of seven Congregations then gathered in London; since which time, diverse impressions thereof have been dispersed abroad, and our end proposed, in good measure answered, inasmuch as many (and some of those men eminent, both for piety and learning) were thereby satisfied, that we were no way guilty of those Heterodoxies and fundamental errors, which had too frequently been charged upon us without ground, or occasion given on our part. And forasmuch, as that Confession is not now commonly to be had; and also that many others have since embraced the same truth which is owned therein; it was judged necessary by us to joyn together in giving a testimony to the world; of our firm adhering to those wholesome Principles, by the publication of this which is now in your hand. And forasmuch as our method, and manner of expressing our sentiments, in this, doth vary from the former (although the substance of the matter is the same) we shall freely impart to you the reason and occasion thereof. One thing that greatly prevailed with us to undertake this work, was (not only to give a full account of our selves, to those Christians that differ from us about the subject of Baptism, but also) the profit that might from thence arise, unto those that have any account of our labors, in their instruction, and establishment in the great truths of the Gospel; in the clear understanding, and steady belief of which, our comfortable walking with God, and fruitfulness before him, in all our ways, is most neerly concerned; and therefore we did conclude it necessary to expresse our selves the more fully, and distinctly; and also to fix on such a method as might be most comprehensive of those things which we designed to explain our sense, and belief of; and finding no defect, in this regard, in that fixed on by the assembly, and after them by those of the Congregational way, we did readily conclude it best to retain the same order in our present confession: and also, when we observed that those last mentioned, did in their confession (for reasons which seemed of weight both to themselves and others) choose not only to express their mind in words concurrent with the former in sense, concerning all those articles wherein they were agreed, but also for the most part without any variation of the terms we did in like manner conclude it best to follow their example in making use of the very same words with them both, in these articles (which are very many) wherein our faith and doctrine is the same with theirs, and this we did, the more abundantly, to manifest our consent with both, in all the fundamental articles of the Christian Religion, as also with many others, whose orthodox confessions have been published to the world. 3.2 Baptists share much theological unity with other historic Protestant movements, here particularly the Puritans/Anglicans. See above quote. The Second London Confession copies much of the Westminster Confession to show their common faith:

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[O]n behalf of the Protestants in divers Nations and Cities: and also to convince all, that we have no itch to clogge Religion with new words, but do readily acquiesce in that form of sound words, which hath been, in consent with the holy Scriptures, used by others before us; hereby declaring before God, Angels, & Men, our hearty agreement with them, in that wholesome Protestant Doctrine, which with so clear evidence of Scriptures they have asserted: some things indeed, are in some places added, some terms omitted, and some few changed, but these alterations are of that nature, as that we need not doubt, any charge or suspition of unsoundness in the faith, from any of our brethren upon the account of them. In those things wherein we differ from others, we have exprest our selves with all candor and plainness that none might entertain jealousie of ought secretly lodged in our breasts, that we would not the world should be acquainted with; yet we hope we have also observed those rules of modesty, and humility, as will render our freedom in this respect inoffensive, even to those whose sentiments are different from ours . . . There is one thing more which we sincerely professe, and earnestly desire credence in, viz. That contention is most remote from our design in all that we have done in this matter: and we hope the liberty of an ingenuous unfolding our principles, and opening our hearts unto our Brethren, with the Scripture grounds on which our faith and practise leanes, will by none of them be either denyed to us, or taken ill from us. Our whole design is accomplished, if we may obtain that Justice, as to be measured in our principles, and practise, and the judgement of both by others, according to what we have now published; which the Lord (whose eyes are as a flame of fire) knoweth to be the doctrine, which with our hearts we must firmly believe, and sincerely indeavour to conform our lives to. And oh that other contentions being laid asleep, the only care and contention of all upon whom the name of our blessed Redeemer is called, might for the future be, to walk humbly with their God, and in the exercise of all Love and Meekness toward each other, to perfect holyness in the fear of the Lord, each one endeavouring to have his conversation such as becometh the Gospel; and also suitable to his place and capacity vigorously to promote in others the practice of true Religion and undefiled in the sight of God and our Father. And that in this backsliding day, we might not spend our breath in fruitless complaints of the evils of others; but may every one begin at home, to reform in the first place our own hearts, and wayes; and then to quicken all that we may have influence upon, to the same work; that if the will of God were so, none might deceive themselves, by resting in, and trusting to, a form of Godliness, without the power of it, and inward experience of the efficacy of those truths that are professed by them. 3.3 The unity of the church is linked to the one universal church. CHAP. XXVI. Of the Church. (article 1 is heavily based on WCC but the other articles in this section show more Baptist imprint). 1. The Catholick 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 (a) number of the Elect, that have

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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. 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 unholyness of conversation, (b) are and may be called visible Saints; (c) and of such ought all particular Congregations to be constituted. 3.4 The unity of the church is linked to local, visible churches, which are still liable to error and mixture. 3. The purest Churches under heaven are subject (d) to mixture, and error; and som have so degenerated as to become (e) no Churches of Christ, but Synagogues of Satan; nevertheless Christ always hath had, and ever shall have a (f) Kingdome in this world, to the end thereof, of such as believe in him, and make profession of his Name. 3.5 The unity of the church rests in Christ alone as head of the church. 4. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church, in whom by the appointment of the Father, (g) all power for the calling, institution, order, or Government of the Church, is invested in a supream & soveraigne manner, neither can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof, but is (h) that Antichrist, that Man of sin, and Son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God; whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming. 3.6 The unity of the church is seen in church membership as covenantal. 6. The Members of these Churches are (m) Saints by calling, visibly manifesting and evidencing (in and by their profession and walking) their obedience unto that call of Christ; and do willingly consent to walk together according to the appointment of Christ, giving up themselves, to the Lord & one to another by the will of God, (n) in professed subjection to the Ordinances of the Gospel. 12. As all Believers are bound to joyn themselves to particular Churches, when and where they have opportunity so to do; So all that are admitted unto the priviledges of a Church, are also (b) under the Censures and Government thereof, according to the Rule of Christ. 3.7 The unity of the church is more important than personal offenses. Members are to allow the church to handle offenses and disputes. 13. No Church-members upon any offence taken by them, having performed their Duty required of them towards the person they are offended at, ought to disturb any Church order, or absent themselves from the Assemblies of the Church, or Administration of any Ordinances, upon the account of such offence at any of their fellow-members; but to wait upon Christ, (c) in the further proceeding of the Church.

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3.8 The unity of the church is not only for local congregations, but also for the church as a whole. 14. As each Church, and all the Members of it are bound to (d) pray continually, for the good and prosperity of all the Churches of Christ, in all places; and upon all occasions to further it (every one within the bounds of their places, and callings, in the Exercise of their Gifts and Graces) so the Churches (when planted by the providence of God so as they may injoy opportunity and advantage for it) ought to hold (e) communion amongst themselves for their peace, increase of love, and mutual edification. 3.9 Local churches are to pray for the good and success of all churches. See above quote. 3.10 Local churches ought to commune with each other for multiple reasons: their peace, increase of love, and mutual edification. See above quote. 3.11 When churches disagree, they should meet, discuss, decide, and communicate an appropriate response. 15. In cases of difficulties or differences, either in point of Doctrine, or Administration; wherein either the Churches in general are concerned, or any one Church in their peace, union, and edification; or any member, or members, of any Church are injured, in or by any proceedings in censures not agreeable to truth, and order: it is according to the mind of Christ, that many Churches holding communion together, do by their messengers meet to consider, (f) and give their advice, in or about that matter in difference, to be reported to all the Churches concerned; howbeit these messengers assembled are not entrusted with any Church-power properly so called; or with any jurisdiction over the Churches themselves, to exercise any censures either over any Churches, or Persons: or (g) to impose their determination on the Churches, or Officers. 3.12 All Christians are united to Jesus as their head. CHAP. XXVII. Of the Communion of Saints (This section is based heavily on Westminster Confession). 1. All Saints that are united to Jesus Christ their Head, by his Spirit, and Faith; although they are not made thereby one person with him, have (a) fellowship in his Graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory; and being united to one another in love, they (b) have communion in each others gifts, and graces; and are obliged to the performance of such duties, publick and private, in an orderly way, (c) as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man. 3.13 All Christians are united to one another in love. See above quote. 3.14 All Christians are interrelated to and share in each other. See above quote.

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3.15 All Christians are obligated to promote the mutual good of each other, and other churches. See above quote. 3.16 Christians are obligated to maintain unity as an aspect of worship. CHAP. XXVII. Of the Communion of Saints. 2. Saints by profession are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services, (d) as tend to their mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in (e) outward things according to their several abilities, and necessities; which communion according to the rule of the Gospel, though especially to be exercised by them, in the relations wherein they stand, whether in (f) families, or (g) Churches; yet as God offereth opportunity is to be extended to all the houshold of faith, even all those who in every place call upon the name of the Lord Jesus; nevertheless their communion one with another as Saints, doth not take away or (h) infringe, the title or propriety, which each man hath in his goods and possessions. 3.17 Christians are in unity with one another and are to minister to each other and show generosity with each other. See above quote. 3.18 The unity of the church does not imply communes or lack of private property. See above quote. 3.19 Baptism, among other things, is a sign of our union with Christ. Unlike in Helwys’s Confession, union with other believers in baptism is not mentioned: CHAP. XXIX. Of Baptism. 1. Baptism is an Ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be unto the party Baptized, a sign of his fellowship with him, in his death, (c) and resurrection; of his being engrafted into him; of (d) remission of sins; and of his (e) giving up unto God through Jesus Christ to live and walk in newness of Life. 3.20 The Lord’s Supper, among other things, is a bond and pledge of our union with Christ and with each other. CHAP. XXX. Of the Lord’s Supper. 1. The Supper of the Lord Jesus, was instituted by him, the same night wherein he was betrayed, to be observed in his Churches unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance, and shewing forth the sacrifice of himself in his death (a) confirmation of the faith of believers in all the benefits thereof, their spiritual nourishment, and growth in him, their further ingagement in, and to, all duties which they owe unto him; (b) and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other.

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3.21 Baptists share the core of Christian beliefs in common with many other Christians. Appendix. Whosoever reads, and impartially considers what we have in our forgoing confession declared, may readily perceive, That we do not only concenter with all other true Christians on the Word of God (revealed in the Scriptures of truth) as the foundation and rule of our faith and worship. But that we have also industriously endeavoured to manifest, That in the fundamental Articles of Christianity we mind the same things, and have therefore expressed our belief in the same words that have on the like occasion been spoken by other societies of Christians before us. This we have done, That those who are desirous to know the principles of Religion which we hold and practise, may take an estimate from our selves (who jointly concur in this work) and may not be misguided, either by undue reports; or by the ignorance or errors of particular persons, who going under the same name with our selves, may give an occasion of scandalizing the truth we profess . . . 3.22 Doctrinal confession and clarity seek to promote peace. Appendix . . . earnestly desiring to approve our selves to be such, as follow after peace with holiness . . . 3.23 Doctrinal confession and clarity is submitted with conviction but is open to correction by others. Appendix . . . Yet we do heartily propose this, that if any of the Servants of our Lord Jesus shall, in the Spirit of meekness, attempt to convince us of any mistake either in judgement or practise, we shall diligently ponder his arguments; and accompt him our chiefest friend that shall be an instrument to convert us from any error that is in our ways, for we cannot wittingly do any thing against the truth, but all things for the truth . . . 3.24 The unity of the church requires keeping theological disagreements in perspective, seeking to unite as much as possible and to show as much agreement with other believers as possible. Appendix . . . These things we have mentioned as having a direct reference unto the controversie between our brethren and us; other things that are more abstruse and prolix, which are frequently introduced into this controversie, but do not necessarily concern it, we have purposely avoided; that the distance between us and our brethren may not be by us made more wide; for it is our duty, and concern so far as is possible for us (retaining a good conscience towards God) to seek a more entire agreement and reconciliation with them. 3.25 The unity of the church still exists amidâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and is consistent withâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the reality of some disagreements within local churches and denominations. Appendix . . . We are not insenible that as to the order of Gods house, and entire communion therein there are some things wherein we (as well as others) are not at a full accord among our selves, as for instance; the known principle, and state of the consciences of diverse of us, that have agreed in this Confession is such; that

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Baptists and the Unity of the Church

we cannot hold Church-communion, with any other then Baptized believers, and Churches constituted of such; yet some others of us have a greater liberty and freedom in our spirits that way; and therefore we have purposely omitted the mention of things of that nature, that we might concurre, in giving this evidence of our agreement, both among our selves, and with other good Christians, in those important articles of the Christian Religion, mainly insisted on by us: and this notwithstanding we all esteem it our chief concern, both among our selves, and all others that in every place call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours, and love him in sincerity, to endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace; and in order thereunto, to exercise all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love. 3.26 The unity of the church is linked to agreement in the fundamental articles of the Christian faith; conviction about doctrine is consistent with love, unity, peace, humility, meekness, patience, and forbearance. See above quote. 3.27 The doctrinal statement was given to promote the unity of the church and explain why Baptists meet in separate congregations, and considered the other Christians as believers, etc. Appendix . . . And we are perswaded if the same method were introduced into frequent practice between us and our Christian friends who agree with us in all the fundamental articles of the Christian faith (though they do not so in the subject and administration of baptism) it would soon beget a better understanding, and brotherly affection between us . . . 3.28 The unity of the church is consistent with the recognition of levels of significance of doctrine: those of the essence of Christianity, and those not of the essence of Christianity. Appendix . . . So may it be now as to many things relating to the service of God, which do retain the names proper to them in their first institution, but yet through inadvertency (where there is no sinister design) may vary in their circumstances, from their first institution. And if by means of any antient defection, or of that general corruption of the service of God, and interruption of his true worship, and persecution of his servants by the Antichristian Bishop of Rome, for many generations; those who do consult the Word of God, cannot yet arrive at a full and mutual satisfaction among themselves, what was the practise of the primitive Christian Church, in some points relating to the Worship of God: yet inasmuch as these things are not of the essence of Christianity, but that we agree in the fundamental doctrines thereof, we do apprehend, there is sufficient ground to lay aside all bitterness and prejudice, and in the spirit of love and meekness to imbrace and own each other therein; leaving each other at liberty to perform such other services, (wherein we cannot concur) apart unto God, according to the best of our understanding.

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3.29 The unity of the church presupposes true Christianity. Baptists are not in unity with everyone who claims the name of Christianity, but only with those who hold to the truths of the essence of Christianity. See above quote. 3.30 Those who hold to the doctrines of the essence of Christianity can put aside bitterness and prejudice, embracing each other in love and meekness and giving each other liberty to follow their conscience/interpretation of Scripture unto God. See above quote. 4. Philadelphia Confession of Faith, 1742 Material on the church and related topics in the Philadelphia Confession is virtually verbatim to the Second London Confession of 1689 (much like the similarity in the Baptist Faith and Message documents of 1925, 1963, and 2000). So there is no need to rehearse the list here. 5. Principles of Faith of the Sandy Creek Association, 1758 I found nothing directly on the unity of the church in the confession, even in the following statements: VI. The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful persons, who have obtained fellowship with each other, and have given themselves up to the Lord and one another; having agreed to keep up a godly discipline, according to the rules of the Gospel. VII. That Jesus Christ is the great head of the church, and that the government thereof is with the body. VIII. That baptism and the Lordâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Supper are ordinances of the Lord, and to be continued by his church until his second coming. IX. That true believers are the only fit subjects of baptism; and that immersion is the only mode. X. That the church has no right to admit any but regular baptized church members to communion at the Lordâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s table. 6. New Hampshire Confession of Faith, 1833 I found nothing directly on the unity of the church, even in the following statements: XIII. Of a Gospel Church. We believe that a visible church of Christ is a congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the ordinances of Christ; governed by his

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laws; and exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by his word; that its only scriptural officers are bishops or pastors and deacons whose qualifications, claims and duties are defined in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus. XIV. Of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We believe that the Christian baptism is the immersion in water of a believer, into the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost; to show forth in a solemn and beautiful emblem, our faith in the crucified, buried and risen Saviour, with its effect, in our death to sin and resurrection to a new life; that it is prerequisite to the privileges of a church relation, and to the Lord’s Supper; in which the members of the church by the sacred use of bread and wine, are to commemorate together the dying love of Christ; preceded always by solemn self-examination. 7. Abstract of Principles, 1859 I found nothing directly on the unity of the church. The closest idea is a comment about the Lord’s Supper as a bond, pledge, and renewal of a believer’s communion with Christ and of their church fellowship: XIV. The Church. The Lord Jesus is the Head of the Church, which is composed of all his true disciples, and in Him is invested supremely all power for its government. According to his commandment, Christians are to associate themselves into particular societies or churches; and to each of these churches he hath given needful authority for administering that order, discipline and worship which he hath appointed. The regular officers of a Church are Bishops, or Elders, and Deacons. XV. Baptism. Baptism is an ordinance of the Lord Jesus, obligatory upon every believer, wherein he is immersed in water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, as a sign of his fellowship with the death and resurrection of Christ, of remission of sins, and of his giving himself up to God, to live and walk in newness of life. It is prerequisite to church fellowship, and to participation in the Lord’s Supper. XVI. The Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of Jesus Christ, to be administered with the elements of bread and wine, and to be observed by his churches till the end of the world. It is in no sense a sacrifice, but is designed to commemorate his death, to confirm the faith and other graces of Christians, and to be a bond, pledge and renewal of their communion with him, and of their church fellowship.

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8. The Baptist Faith and Message, 1925, 1963, 2000 Just as I considered the Second London Confession and did not repeat the material in the Philadelphia Confession, I will consider the three major editions of the Baptist Faith and Message together. 8.1 The unity of the church presupposes a true church, and hence Christianity. No unity of the church is possible toward those rejecting historic Christianity. Preamble. 1925: The present occasion for a reaffirmation of Christian fundamentals is the prevalence of naturalism in the modern teaching and preaching of religion. Christianity is supernatural in its origin and history. We repudiate every theory of religion which denies the supernatural elements in our faith. 8.2 Doctrinal statements can enhance unity. Preamble. 1925: . . . believing that some such statement will clarify the atmosphere and remove some causes of misunderstanding, friction, and apprehension. 8.3 The unity of the church is grounded on the truthfulness of Scripture. It is the true center of Christian union. The Scriptures. 1925: We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction; that it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter; that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us; and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds and religious opinions should be tried (The language on true center of Christian union is kept in 1963 and 2000). Strikingly, there is nothing on the unity of the church in the sections on the Church, Baptism and the Lordâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Supper, the Kingdom, Evangelism and Missions, or Stewardship. The 1963 edition adds material on the universal church, but still nothing on unity: Church. 2000: A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women

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are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture. The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation. 8.4 Churches should cooperate financially for causes of missions, general benevolence, and education. Education. 1925: The cause of education in the Kingdom of Christ is coordinate with the causes of missions and general benevolence, and should receive along with these the liberal support of the churches (BFM 1963 and 2000 are essentially the same here). The key section related to unity in the Baptist Faith and Message documents is “Cooperation.” 8.5 “Christ’s people” should, as occasion requires, organize associations and conventions for cooperation. Cooperation. 1925: Christ’s people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and conventions as may best secure co-operation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over each other or over the churches. They are voluntary and advisory bodies designed to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of our people in the most effective manner. Individual members of New Testament churches should co-operate with each other, and the churches themselves should co-operate with each other in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent program for the extension of Christ’s Kingdom. Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary co-operation for common ends by various groups of Christ’s people. It is permissible and desirable as between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and his Word as revealed in the New Testament (BFM 1963 and 2000 essentially the same). 8.6 Such organizations carry no authority over the believers or churches. See above quote. 8.7 These organizations are voluntary and advisory, coordinating for effectiveness. See above quote. 8.8 “Members of New Testament churches” should cooperate for missions, education, and benevolence ministries to extend the kingdom. See above quote.

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8.9 “Christian unity is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ’s people.” See above quote. Note that the definition of Christian unity omits “church unity,” highlights people not the church, and is practical/pragmatic rather than theological. 8.10 Cooperation among various denominations is desirable in certain cases: if the right end is purposed, the conscience is not violated, and loyalty Christ and Scripture are not compromised. See above quote. 8.11 Cooperation with non-believers for a good cause can be appropriate. Note the same word—cooperation—is used for churches working together and for Christians working with others outside the faith. Christians and the Social Order. 1925. Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love. In order to promote these ends Christians should be ready to work with all men of good will in any good cause, always being careful to act in the spirit of love without compromising their loyalty to Christ and His truth (BFM 1963 and 2000 essentially the same). Reflections 1. As noted Baptist historian Tony Chute observes, the very fact that we have multiple confessions says something in and of itself about Baptists and the unity of the church. Multiple confessions can be good, but their existence does underline our tendency to keep adding distinctions among each other. 2. Most Baptist confessions do not reflect a developed doctrine of the unity of the church. Some do, but most do not. Let’s remember, though, that by nature confessions are occasioned by circumstances, brief, and not intended to be exhaustive. As such they should not be faulted too much for excluding certain doctrines or leaving them largely undeveloped.6 We would need to study the

6

The Baptist Faith and Message shows a heavier emphasis on praxis than many confessions. The word counts related to BFM 2000 are: Preamble (c. 1,015 words), Faith (counting articles 1–10, c. 2,375 words), and Message (counting articles 11–18, c. 1,665 words).

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systematic theologies and ecclesiologies for that. By focusing on confessions, we feel confident that a wide group of Baptists hold these views, but also we are limited in what we can observe on local church unity. We would need to study the church covenants and sermons for that. 3. The best of what we do have on the unity of the church in Baptist confessions stems from the earlier Baptists. The data here is compelling: the Second London Confession stands head and shoulders above the others in terms of coverage and depth on the unity of the church, with the next closest being the First London Confession. 4. Yet much of the best Baptist material on the unity of the church was stressed out of necessity—to avoid persecution or being understood as schismatic or heretical. 5. Further, while a good portion of the material on the unity of the church was indeed written by Baptists, quite a bit of the Second London Confession was borrowed/copied verbatim from the Westminster Confession and the Savoy Declaration and thus originated with Anglicans, Non-conformists, and Puritans. 6. From my research of these major ten Baptist confessions, it also seems that the unity of the church has not been framed theologically in Baptist confessions since 1742, and that was based on 1689—a good portion of which was based on the Westminster Confession and the Savoy Declaration. So a large portion of the best Baptist material on church unity is over three hundred years old, was borrowed from other movements, and was partially occasioned by the need to avoid persecution. 7. Since 1742, the doctrine of the unity of the church does not appear to shape or be expressly related to the doctrines of the church, baptism, or Lord’s Supper.

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8. It is unclear what to make of this, but the language of “cooperation,” rather than the language of church unity, has emerged as the basis for working together. While a fine term in what it stresses (cooperation is good and better than no cooperation), it seems to shift the approach from “We work together because we are united together in Christ” to cooperating because of shared goals and mission (which is also good but less substantial). This inadvertently grounds our unity in practical concerns rather than on a theology of church unity. A further problem is that the language of “cooperation” was used also in the context of working with people outside the faith. Again, the statement is fine and helpful, but underlines the previous point’s concern. Cooperation is good but less substantial than church unity as a basis for shared mission. 9. How Baptists have understood and articulated the doctrine of the unity of the church has been heavily shaped by context. When under persecution by the Church of England, unity looks awfully important. When doing evangelism on the frontier, it may get a backseat. When denominational distinctives are highlighted, unity might get in the way. When historic Christian teachings are being redefined by theological liberalism, unity with churches of mainline denominations seems like a failure of backbone. And when denominational agencies and seminaries are largely led by theological moderates and the neo-orthodox, unity seems like a concession. And when unity is discussed among evangelicals at the Evangelical Theological Society in a global, evangelical, seemingly post-denominational age, true church unity seems vital.

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Baptists and the Holiness of the Church

BAPTISTS AND THE HOLINESS OF THE CHURCH: SOUNDINGS IN BAPTIST THOUGHT By Ray Van Neste1 Introduction Baptists & Holiness? Oh what a mess. Our documents say we’re for it Our behavior says we’re agin it. A paper on this topic? I’m not sure where to begin it. We don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t chew And don’t run with girls that do. But if we do we won’t tell you! Our holiness is as appealing as Solomon Grundy We’re independent, separate and Fundy Other times we’re squishy & uncertain More concerned about whose feelings we’re hurtin’. Baptist thought on the holiness of the church is daunting in its breadth. Robert Torbet’s caveat concerning his survey of this area rings true: “Such a survey must be approached in full consciousness of the difficulties and limitations imposed by the task. . . . [T]he sources are so numerous and scattered that one is frustrated by the realization that he has only scratched the surface of the subject.”2 Thus, I have titled this essay “Soundings in

1

Ray Van Neste is Professor of Biblical Studies and Director of the R.C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies at Union University in Jackson, Tennesee. 2 Robert G. Torbet, “Baptist Thought About the Church,” 19, in Baptists: The Bible, Church Order and the Churches; Essays from Foundations: A Baptist Journal of History and Theology (New York: Arno Press, 1980). The full quote is: “Such a survey must be approached in full consciousness of the difficulties

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Baptist Thought on the Holiness of the Church” to indicate that this is not an exhaustive treatment but an exploration of the topic with an eye toward contemporary improvement of our practice. Distinctions At one level, all Christians agree that the church is and should be holy. However, what we understand by this “holiness” differs. First, we must consider holiness and the corporate or institutional church. For Baptists, this is our first area of departure from Rome. In Catholic teaching, “An absolute purity is ascribed to the church which is not ascribed to any of its members.”3 The church has already been made holy and now transmits this holiness to its members via the sacraments. Thus, the holiness or sinfulness of the individual members does not affect the holiness of the institution. The official report of dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Baptist World Alliance elucidates how Baptist thought differs from Catholic thought: “While Catholics and Baptists are agreed on the Christological basis and eschatological completion of holiness (Eph. 5:25– 7), they differ in the way they articulate the relationship between the holiness of the church as a body and the holiness of the individual members of the Church.”4 The difference is that the Catholic Church claims for the institutional church a realized fullness of holiness, while Baptists tend to stress the “as-yet unrealized nature of the church’s holiness, equating the state of the church with the imperfect holiness of its

and limitations imposed by the task. First, there is the problem of selecting expressions which reflect accurately the thinking of various segments of Baptist membership. Second, the limitations of space demand a sampling and summarizing. . . . Third, the sources are so numerous and scattered that one is frustrated by the realization that he has only scratched the surface of the subject.” 3 James Leo Garrett, Systematic Theology, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (North Richland Hills, TX: BIBAL Press, 2001), 523. 4 The Word of God in the Life of the Church: A Report of International Conversations between the Catholic Church and the Baptist World Alliance 2006–2010, 33.

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members who are ‘sinners and at the same time justified’ [citing Luther].” In fact, Luther’s language both captures the Baptist concept of the corporate church and describes the believing individual. Yes, the church is holy through the declaration of Christ, but that holiness is not yet fully realized. She is not an infallible institution that has obtained a fullness of holiness that can now be dispensed. Instead she is a pilgrim community anchored in the reality of Christ’s finished work but progressing in the experience of holiness. In this way Baptists are more akin to Hans Küng: “The Church composed of human beings is also, through his grace, the Church of God, it is a fellowship which, for all its sinfulness, is at the same time holy and, for all its holiness, is at the same time sinful.”5 The complete holiness of the church will be fully realized only on the final day. Kung goes on to say that to speak of the church today as being “without spot or wrinkle” is “misleading” and that many leading voices in the history of the church have agreed that the church will reach complete holiness only on the final day. For instance, Augustine wrote: “Whenever in my books I have described the Church as being without spot or wrinkle, I have not meant to imply that it was already so, but that it should prepare itself to be so, at the time when it too will appear in its glory. In the present time, because of the inexperience and weakness of its members it must pray every day anew: Forgive us our trespasses.”6 And Thomas Aquinas: “That the Church will be glorious, without spot or wrinkle, is the final goal to which we are led through the sufferings of Christ. This will only be

5 6

Hans Küng, The Church (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1967), 328. Küng, 327, citing Augustine Retract. II, 18; PL 32, 637f.

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true in our eternal home, not on the way thither, for now we would deceive ourselves if we were to say we have no sin, as 1 John 1:8 points out.”7 So, the institution of the church is not yet fully sanctified. We must bear with our fallenness while looking for a fullness yet to come. However, this does not mean we should not pursue purity among the members of the church. The church has, at times, neglected the pursuit of practical holiness. I would suggest that the medieval church’s embrace of the doctrine of the holiness of the church (i.e., the purity of the institution) led to less concern about the holiness of particular members during that time period. The distinction between personal and institutional holiness is important and is logically prior to the concern for regenerate church membership. If the church is the holy mother, the already-sanctified-institution holding the means of salvation, then we should receive all of humanity into its membership. However, when the Scripture speaks of the source of saving grace, it speaks of being grafted into Christ, not the church. If, then, the church is not the font of grace, but Christ is, then we call all to him. The church is then the gathering of those who have come to Christ by faith. A second consideration concerning the meaning of “the holiness of the church” is that the church as an institution does not have a realized holiness apart from its members; a holy church requires a holy people. This is where we differ with many of our Protestant brethren. Baptists emerge historically because of their call for a pure church, one that is comprised only of professing believers. This is what happened in 1609. In contrast to the idea of a state church, including in its membership all citizens, the Baptists argued for regenerate church membership (only those who profess and give evidence of faith should be members). This, of course, leads to the baptism of professing believers only and to a 7

Küng, 327–28, citing Aquinas, D. th. III, q. 8, a.3, ad 2.

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necessarily greater distinction between church and state. These political and liturgical issues all arise from the theological claim that the church consists only of believers. Since only believers can be members, early Baptist churches had a more organic need for church discipline than did the Catholic Church or churches of the Magisterial Reformation. These other churches practiced excommunication, surely, but Baptist churches were motivated by a more thorough pursuit of purity. When a person’s behavior put the lie to their profession of faith, that person must be removed from membership, since only believers can be members. This also leads to the language commonly used by Baptists of “visible saints.” Church membership is restricted to visible saints, that is, those who give good evidence of being Christians by their profession and life befitting that profession. Baptists have taken seriously Paul’s statement in Titus 1:16 that some profess to know Christ but by their deeds deny him. Also, in Baptist church discipline a church might remove a member in full awareness (and yes, even hope) that this person may in the end prove himself to be a believer by repenting and returning. Baptists have not taught that the church on this side of eternity attains the ideal of having in her membership all Christians or only Christians. Yet she pursues this ideal. If one is a “visible saint,” he is received. If his behavior no longer affirms his profession, he will be removed from membership with the prayer that he might, by repentance, prove the genuineness of his conversion. This belief in regenerate membership has practical implications for the holiness of the church. Since we say only Christians can be members, we also affirm that all whom we have received and maintain as members are Christians. Thus, by allowing someone’s

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name to be on the membership roll of a local Baptist church, we are saying we believe this person is a Christian. Biblical Basis So far I have made several assertions. It will be useful now to examine a few biblical texts to ground these claims. The church’s holiness is not yet fully realized. Paul’s earnest concern for the continuing sanctification of the churches doesn’t seem to fit with the idea that the institution’s holiness is static. On the contrary, he is at pains to see that they pursue and make progress in holiness. He sees the possibility that individual churches might fail because of lapses in practical holiness. Paul prays for the Thessalonians “that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints” (1 Thess. 3:13). The holiness in view here is accomplished “at the coming of our Lord Jesus.” In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul urges the holiness of the church be guarded. The holiness of the church is not assumed, since a little leaven can indeed leaven the whole lump. The church can be corrupted. An examination of the New Testament shows that the holiness of the church is an already/not yet situation. The church has been declared holy, but this holiness is not yet fully realized. Sometimes in the New Testament sanctification is presented as something in process (e.g., Rom. 6:19, 22: “Present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. . . . [N]ow that you have been set free from sin and have

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become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”) At other times sanctification is seen as something that has already been accomplished: You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11) By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:10) In other texts, these two aspects are presented together, as in Hebrews 10:14, “By a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Yes, the church has been redeemed, but the final realization of holiness (without spot or wrinkle) is not yet complete, according to Ephesians 5. It is something Christ is accomplishing even now through the “washing of water with the word” (Eph. 5:26). We can join with him in this work by the use of the Word. Sanctification comes from and is accomplished by the Triune God, not by the church. Contrary to Catholic teaching, sanctification is not mediated by the church. The New Testament does not speak of the church imparting sanctification. Rather, God does the sanctifying. John 17:17—Jesus asks the Father to sanctify his people. Acts 20:32—Paul says to the Ephesian elders, “I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Romans 15:16 refers to Christians being “sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 1:2—“To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints.” 1 Corinthians 1:30—“Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”

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1 Corinthians 6:11—“You were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Ephesians 5:26—“that he might sanctify her.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23—“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13—“God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.” Hebrews 2:11—“He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source.” Hebrews 10:10—“We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ.” Hebrews 13:12—“Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.” Consistently, different NT writers in different settings declare that it is God (each member of the Trinity is mentioned) who sanctifies. The church does have a role, not as the source of holiness but as a community helping one another hold fast to the God of sanctification, pointing one another back to the sanctifying word of truth, praying for one another, and rebuking and holding each other accountable (more on that below). The church is holy because of the presence of God. In 1 Timothy 3:15 Paul strikingly refers to the church as “the church of the living God.”8 The phrase “living God” comes from the Old Testament, where it is regularly used to contrast Yahweh with idols of wood or stone, gods who are not alive. The phrase regularly stresses God’s active presence. Thus here Paul is saying the church is the assembly where God’s manifest presence is revealed. The church is the theater for the

8

“This verse [v. 15] contains of the most succinct ecclesiological formulations in the entire New Testament.” Raymond F. Collins, I & II Timothy and Titus (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2002), 102.

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display of the glory of God. It is, thus, necessarily holy because the holy God manifests his presence there in a unique way. Holiness is primarily pursued in the lives of individuals. Ephesians 5 does refer to the sanctifying of the whole church, but typically the discussion of sanctification concerns individual believers (e.g., “This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality,” 1 Thess. 4:3; “We exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory,” 1 Thess. 2:12). Interestingly, in 1 Corinthians 1:2 Paul addresses the church in Corinth (singular) but switches to the plural for “those who have been sanctified” and those who are “called as saints.” Holiness is required of all believers and is a community project. Holiness is clearly non-negotiable in the New Testament. One could point to various texts, but these two will suffice: As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile. (1 Pet 1:15–17) Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Heb. 12:14) This reality is part of what drives community responsibility (as in Hebrews 4:1— “Let us fear lest anyone”). Holiness in the New Testament is clearly a community project, where each individual has responsibility for his own decisions but each also has the responsibility to watch over, care for, help, encourage, and rebuke one another: Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal 6:1–2)

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Paul tells Timothy to “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22). Holiness involves not only renunciation of sin, but also chasing down righteousness, and this pursuit is not to be done alone. We need hunting buddies. We pursue with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. In Hebrews, having addressed them as “holy brothers” (3:1), the author then exhorts them: Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (3:12–13) Brothers are to help one another in the fight against sin, guarding against the deceitful hardening of sin. Precisely because sin is deceitful, we need brothers and sisters to help us see how it is affecting us. They are called “blind spots” for a reason! The author goes on to exhort us to “fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach” the promised rest (4:1). Perseverance in the faith, the pursuit of holiness, is a community project where “brothers”—i.e., fellow believers and not only pastors—are called to help one another, to encourage one another daily. This envisions a community where members know one another well, see one another often, and have close enough relationships that they can give and receive rebuke and encouragement regularly. The same idea appears in Hebrews 10:19–25. The antidote to apostasy is believers’ considering how to stir up one another to love and good works and not neglecting to meet together. In James 5:19–20, the antidote to apostasy (“one who wanders from the truth”) again is for a “brother” to “bring him back.” Similarly, in 1 John

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5:19–20, if “anyone” sees a brother committing a sin that doesn’t lead to death, we are to ask God, and God shall give him life! In Ephesians 4, giftings of the Spirit are listed, including pastor-teachers, but the body grows as “every joint” supplies what is needed. This pictures a church community where members link arms, saying to one another, “We do not intend to make it to heaven without you. We will get there together.” Because of this biblical teaching, church covenants have been used in Baptist life from our earliest days. These covenants clearly state the commitment of each member to covenant with every other member to walk in holiness, help one another, and hold one another accountable. As Charles Deweese affirms, Baptists “have viewed covenants, along with believer’s baptism and church discipline, as means of nurturing and safeguarding the New Testament emphasis on a regenerate church membership.”9 This idea is nicely stated in the First London Baptist confession (1646): As Christ for the keeping of this church in holy and orderly communion, places some special men over the church, who by their office are to govern, oversee, visit, watch; so likewise for the better keeping thereof in all places, by the members, He has given authority, and laid duty upon all, to watch over one another. (XLIV) So, as Stephen Holmes has concisely stated, a “Baptist church is a covenanted congregation of visible saints, walking together in the ways of the Lord and watching over one another.”10 Church discipline guards and promotes the holiness of the body. The Bible is as clear on the need for church discipline as much of our contemporary practice is devoid of it. First Corinthians 5 is our key text. There is much in this text on the importance and 9

Charles Deweese, Baptist Church Covenants (Nashville, TN: Baptist Sunday School Board, 1990), preface. 10 Stephen Holmes, Baptist Theology (London: T&T Clark, 2012), 151.

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necessity of discipline, as well as the motivation. Among the motivations are the salvation of the offender, the glory of God, and concern for the purity or holiness of the church. Paul warns: “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened” (5:6–7), and “Purge the evil person from among you” (v. 13). Without discipline, Paul expects the church to be defiled and corrupted. A belief in regenerate church membership means little without the consistent practice of discipline. This resonates with Paul’s high view of the church found elsewhere in 1 Corinthians. It is striking how Paul reasons that Christian behavior reflects Christ. In the face of divisions in the church, he asks, “Is Christ divided?” Since Christ is not, the church cannot be. Christians are seeing prostitutes? Is Christ joined to a prostitute? Of course not! Then members of his church cannot be. The clear assumption is that the behavior of the church ought to mirror the character of Christ. This is what is at stake in the practical holiness of the church. The watching world is supposed to be able to form their opinion of Christ based on what they see from the church. This is also the clear implication of 1 John 4:12: “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” At the conclusion of this stirring call for believers to love one another, we are told that this is how we “see God”—in the love demonstrated in practical ways within the church. Perhaps the reason fewer people around us believe in God is connected to a decline in the holiness of the church. Returning to our previous discussion of Ephesians 5, we join Christ by laboring now for the purity of his church. This is kingdom work. We cannot simply bypass working for the church’s holiness to get on with gaining new members. If we are truly

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passionate for evangelism, we will find that the greatest hindrance to kingdom advancement will be an impure church, while one of the greatest aids to kingdom advancement will be a purified church. Problems and Prescriptions It seems to me that contemporary Baptists have been sliding back to medieval Rome in the way they talk about the holiness of the church, in at least one respect. Some Baptists resist excommunication because they want to keep people in the church as prospects. Others argue that maintaining potential excommunicates as members means they will be more likely to hear the gospel and be converted. But are we not sounding like Rome in all of this? We have lost our historical theology and, thus, drift in the currents of our own reasoning. We also see an unwillingness to discipline due to lack of nerve, lack of care, or flat lack of faith. In one church where I served as interim pastor, we were faced with a situation where a deacon was spreading slander, rending the fellowship. This reality was known and established by multiple witnesses. In a deacons’ meeting (with the offending deacon not in attendance), I suggested it was our duty to go to this brother and confront him. I was told by another deacon that this approach would not work but would simply cause more trouble. When I pointed to a Biblical text to demonstrate that this was not simply my opinion but the mandate of the Lord of this church, the response was, “The Bible may say that, but we all know it won’t work.” This opinion carried the day.11 We will have no holy church in that manner.

11

Since I could not force the deacons to obey Scripture, I simply said, “Let it be clear, then, that here and now you refuse the clear Word of God, preferring instead your own supposed wisdom. This is rebellion. Do not be so brazen as to expect God to bless it.”

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Related to this, we cannot be serious about regenerate church membership if we continue to receive new members into our churches in the haphazard fashion so common among us. At minimum, pastors must meet with those desiring membership to determine whether they can give a credible profession of faith. If they have previously been members at another church, that church should be contacted to obtain that church’s witness to their spiritual condition. Churches then must also be willing to communicate with other churches to which their members go. We are not in a competition for members but in partnership for sanctification and edification, for the glory of God and advancement of his kingdom. Furthermore, if the church is holy, can or should she be marketed and tailored to the passing whims of the latest target group, the collection of non-attendees on whom we’re currently focusing? Of course, let them know where we are, invite everyone, but conform to none but the Holy One who called you (1 Peter 1:15: “Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior”). A. W. Tozer was on target when he said, Oh, brother or sister, God calls us to worship, but in many instances we are in entertainment, just running a poor second to the theaters. That is where we are, even in the evangelical churches, and I don’t mind telling you that most of the people we say we are trying to reach will never come to a church to see a lot of amateur actors putting on a home talent show.12 We are a holy church, in the proper sense, in possession of a holy Word. So we dare not alter or suppress it. We are called to be proclaimers, not editors. It doesn’t matter if people like this Word or if it is considered offensive or out of date. If we are told certain aspects of this Word keep people out of the church, we are not free to change it.

12

A. W. Tozer, Whatever Happened to Worship?: A True Call to Worship (Camp Hill, PA: Wingspread, 1985), chapter 1.

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Holiness always offends wickedness. Of course, we should make sure the offense comes from the Word, not our manner. But those who reject God will always find offense at his Word, because he dares to command. He dares to be King. The world is like Uncle Andrew in C. S. Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew, who cannot hear the life-giving words of Aslan due to his unbelief. Instead Uncle Andrew can only hear menacing growls from the lion. It is the Word and the God to whom it connects us, empowered by the Holy Spirit, that will make us holy (without which there is no redemption), so if we alter or abandon this Word, we are of no good to those whom we reach. A holy church must, therefore, maintain God’s Word—offense and all—if it is to remain holy and be of any use to the world (remember salt that’s lost its savor). As Jim Elliot said: We are so utterly ordinary, so commonplace, while we profess to know a Power the Twentieth Century does not reckon with. But we are “harmless,” and therefore unharmed. . . . The world cannot hate us, we are too much like its own. Oh that God would make us dangerous!13 A holy people are always a dangerous people in a fallen world. Catholics say the church is holy because she has the sacraments that will make us holy. I have argued against this understanding, as Baptists have in the past. But, I wonder, have we swung too far in the other direction? Have we lost appreciation of the fact that holy, spiritual realities do take place in the church’s worship? Having maintained the supernatural truthfulness of Scripture, have we lost appreciation of the supernatural realities at work every time this Scripture is proclaimed or when it is enacted with the Lord’s Supper or baptism? Jesus prayed for the Father to sanctify us with his Word, 13

Elisabeth Elliot, Shadow of the Almighty: The Life & Testament of Jim Elliot (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1958), 79.

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which is truth (John 17:17). Do we believe that when the Word is shared (from pulpits, kitchen tables, or park benches), it is actually going forth in power, accomplishing its task? I fear the secular spirit of the age has stunted our souls so that we are tone deaf to spiritual realities. Is this why we produce so many Eustace-type preachers, with terribly orthodox sermons crammed with facts but devoid of real vigor or slumber-shattering power, who seem not to reckon with the fact that in preaching they are participating in the shaping of eternity, that they are slaying and bringing to life (as Paul says in 2 Cor. 2:16)? We must apply this as well to excommunication. Once churches are convinced this is a command of Christ and must be obeyed, we must also reckon with the terrible reality being enacted. We are not simply adjusting or uncluttering our rolls. According to Paul in 1 Corinthians 5, we are handing someone over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh. In some places where discipline is being reclaimed, this is being missed. I once visited a church to preach, and the pastor excitedly told me how they were moving toward a plurality of pastors as well as other “9 Marks.” He clearly wanted me to be pleased with their progress. Then, enthusiastically he told me, “and soon we will get to excommunicate a member!” I stared in disbelief. This is not an accomplishment to check off. Paul says we should mourn. But to reckon with this awful reality will require a heartier ecclesiology than we often have. In excommunication we are removing someone from the spiritual protection that comes from being part of a faithful church. Satan will have access to him to harm and harass him in a way he did not before. It is as if the church were pictured as a fortress with an enemy roaming outside. Inside there is protection. But once you are put outside the fortress, the enemy will have his way with

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you. As a pastor I have, with my fellow pastors, led a church through this process several times. After the church has carefully deliberated and decided to move forward in obedience to Christ, one of the pastors always led a prayer that explicitly handed the excommunicate—this person whom we know, whom we love, with whom we have walked and talked and prayed—over to Satan. This has always been done with deep gravity and tears. But this understanding requires a higher view of what it means to be a member of a church. What does it say about professing believers who wander from church to church without being members rooted in any specific church? Doesn’t this shatter the typical idea that being a part of the church means coming to hear a sermon? What does it suggest about the role of pastors? Surely it suggests the pastoral role involves direct oversight of individual souls beyond preaching. It is difficult to talk about Baptist ideas on the holiness of the church when Baptists have given so little thought on a theological level to the church at all in recent years. Much has changed in this area in the last decade or so, thanks in large part to the work of Mark Dever, but in the broader church there is still a gaping hole where our ecclesiology ought to be. We have seen fulfilled C. S. Lewis’s comment: “The trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed.”14 I am afraid we have found such “success” in our ecclesiology. Historically we have known better but have succeeded in making ourselves stupider for the sake of “efficiency” or increased “practicality.” But holiness is messy. And holiness is honored by God.

14

C. S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew (New York: Harper Collins, 2002), 150.

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All our cries for revival, all our calls for kingdom advance ring hollow and hang limp when we show little concern for the holiness of the church. Do we think we can be more efficient by ignoring God’s commands? When we maintain as members those who show no concern for the things of God, we soothe their consciences and grease the tracks as they speed along the path to hell. We ensure their opportunity to enter damnation undisturbed. We also help outsiders ignore the gospel by implying it is not real. I listened as a child while my Baptist deacon father reached out to an extended family member who rejected Christ. This family member pointed to the local church’s unwillingness to confront the public immorality of leaders as evidence that the Christian message was meaningless. Of course, that is an old excuse, but the public witness of the church undercut my father’s evangelistic appeal. What if the church had practiced discipline? What if my father had been able to say, “Yes, I know, but you do realize the church dealt clearly and firmly with this, stating that this behavior was opposed to the gospel?” Then the actions of the church could have been a support rather than a barrier for my father in sharing the gospel. The holiness of the church is no abstract doctrine. Souls hang in the balance, and the glory of God is at stake. We must think clearly, we must labor heartily for the holiness of the church.

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BAPTISTS AND THE CATHOLICITY OF THE CHURCH: TOWARD AN EVANGELICAL BAPTIST CATHOLICITY By Matthew Y. Emerson and R. Lucas Stamps1 Introduction The subtitle of our paper is “Toward an Evangelical Baptist Catholicity.” In this title we are deliberately echoing the work of Baptist ecumenical theologian Steve Harmon and his 2006 volume, Towards Baptist Catholicity: Essays on Tradition and the Baptist Vision.2 While we would differ with Professor Harmon on several foundational issues (especially with regard to biblical authority and religious epistemology), we do share his conviction that the so-called Great Tradition—that is, the tradition of beliefs and practices embodied in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church—belongs as much to the people called Baptists as it does to any ecclesiastical group.3 In recent years, Harmon, along with some of his fellow moderate Baptists in North America, has been engaged in an ongoing

1

Matthew Y. Emerson is Chair of the Department of Arts and Sciences and Assistant Professor of Christian Studies in the Online and Professional Studies Division of California Baptist University in Riverside, CA. R. Lucas Stamps is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies in the Online and Professional Studies Division of California Baptist University in Riverside, CA. 2 Steven R. Harmon, Towards Baptist Catholicity: Essays on Tradition and the Baptist Vision, Studies in Baptist History and Thought 27 (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2006). 3 It is difficult to improve upon the definition of the “Great Tradition” provided by D. H. Williams: “the foundational legacy of apostolic and patristic faith, most accurately enshrined in Scripture and secondarily in the great confessions and creeds of the early church”; in D. H. Williams, Evangelicals and Tradition: The Formative Influence of the Early Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2005), 24. We also cite here the four notae ecclesiae of the Nicene Creed: “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.” By “catholic,” of course, we do not mean “Roman Catholic,” but instead the more general meaning of “universal.” For a biblical exposition of the catholicity of the church from an evangelical Baptist perspective, see Mark Dever, “A Catholic Church: Galatians 3:26–29,” in The Church: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic, ed. Richard D. Phillips, Philip G. Ryken, and Mark E. Dever (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2004), 67–92.

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project to re-envision Baptist identity along more catholic lines.4 A similar movement has been afoot among British Baptists for several decades now, as several prominent British Baptist theologians have called for a greater appreciation for the authority of tradition,5 the place of the sacraments,6 and even the role of ordination in Baptist life.7 However, with a few important exceptions,8 evangelical Baptists in North America have not engaged directly with these movements toward Baptist catholicity. So, in some ways, this paper is an encouragement to our fellow conservative, evangelical Baptists to enter these important conversations and reflect more deliberately on how we might better situate our own expressions of the Baptist vision within the context of historic Christian tradition.9 Consider this a kind of “tract for the times” from an evangelical Baptist perspective. 4

In addition to Harmon’s volume, see especially the programmatic “Re-envisioning Baptist Identity: A Manifesto for Baptist Communities in North America” (1997), authored by Mikael Broadway, Curtis Freeman, Barry Harvey, James Wm. McClendon, Jr., Elizabeth Newman, and Philip Thompson. The document is reproduced in Harmon, Towards Baptist Catholicity, 215–23. See also Barry Harvey, Can These Bones Live? A Catholic-Baptist Engagement with Ecclesiology, Hermeneutics, and Social Theory (Brazos, 2008); and Curtis W. Freeman, Contesting Catholicity: Theology for Other Baptists (Baylor, 2014). 5 Stephen R. Holmes, Listening to the Past: The Place of Tradition in Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003). 6 George R. Beasley-Murray, Baptism in the New Testament (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2006). See also the historical treatment of Stanley K. Fowler, More than a Symbol: The British Baptist Recovery of Baptismal Sacramentalism (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2007). 7 Paul Goodliff, Ministry, Sacrament, and Representation: Ministry and Ordination in Contemporary Baptist Life, and the Rise of Sacramentalism (Oxford, UK: Regent Park College, 2010). See also the essays by Stephen R. Holmes and John E. Colwell in Anthony R. Cross and Philip E. Thompson, eds., Baptist Sacramentalism (Waynesboro, GA: Paternoster, 2003). 8 Here we might think of the works of Timothy George, Michael Haykin, Clark Pinnock, and Stanley Fowler. The two volumes on Baptist sacramentalism include representatives from both sides of the Atlantic. See Cross and Thompson, Baptist Sacramentalism; and Anthony R. Cross and Philip E. Thompson, eds., Baptist Sacramentalism 2 (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2009). 9 The modifiers “evangelical” and “Baptist” deserve some comment. Indeed, as a friend pointed out to us, the addition of any modifiers at all to the term “catholicity” seems counterproductive, and here we are adding two: evangelical and Baptist. However, it is our conviction that there is no traditionless access to catholicity. Evangelical Baptists can most effectively tap into the broader Christian heritage precisely by retrieving our own, more ecclesially specific traditions. Defining “evangelicalism” is notoriously difficult. Some define it in social and political terms, others in theological and missional terms. Some understand it in terms of theological boundary markers, others in terms of central doctrines and practices. We have no real interest in wading into these difficult definitional waters. David Bebbington’s quadrilateral of evangelical identity—biblicism, crucicentrism, conversionism, and activism—has become almost canonical in these discussions, and we are happy to affirm these basic identity markers. In sum, by “evangelical” we mean those theologically orthodox Protestants who share these theological and ecclesial

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The paper is divided into two main sections. In the first section, we survey briefly the history of Baptist thinking on the catholicity of the church. Here we suggest that catholic sensibilities and emphases are more readily apparent in the earliest decades of the Baptist movement (say, the 1610s through the 1680s) and that any contemporary expression of evangelical Baptist catholicity must begin with a retrieval of these seminal years in Baptist thought. In the second section, we attempt to point the way forward for evangelical Baptists who wish to be more self-consciously catholic in their embodiment of the Baptist vision. This section is organized around the four elements of religion commonly identified in religious studies—creed, cult, code, and community—to which we add a fifth and foundational element from a Christian perspective: canon. In these five subsections, we explore how Baptists might better situate their faith, worship, piety, and ecclesial life in the broader Christian tradition, while still yielding ultimate allegiance to the authority of Scripture. In this essay, we do not suggest that Baptists should follow tradition blindly or uncritically, far less that they should simply ape the beliefs and practices of other ecclesiastical traditions. Instead, it is our conviction that Baptists have much to contribute as well as much to receive in the great collection of traditions that constitute the holy catholic church. Baptists and the Catholicity of the Church: A Very Brief History In many ways, the story of Baptist engagement with the catholicity of the church has been a debate over terminology. What is the definition of the church? Is the term ecclesia commitments. By Baptist (note the capital “B”), we mean those Christians and churches who are defined by a cluster of doctrinal distinctives that accompany a commitment to a believers’ church: regenerate church membership, believers’ baptism, congregational polity, local church autonomy, freedom of conscience, the separation of church and state, and so forth. See David W. Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s (London: Routledge, 1989); idem., Baptists through the Centuries: A History of a Global People (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2010).

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used in the NT to refer exclusively to local assemblies, or is it sometimes employed to speak of the church in a more universal sense? If the latter is granted, how then are we to understand the universality of the church, especially given the Baptist rejection of institutional connectionalism? Is the church’s catholicity merely a spiritual, invisible reality, or can it be manifested in concrete, visible ways even in this age before the return of Christ? A minority in the Baptist tradition has rejected categorically the very notion of the universal church. This position, especially associated with the Landmark and Primitive strains of Baptist history, has maintained that the church is exclusively local, as evidenced by the word itself: ecclesia, “assembly.” The argument of J. R. Graves is typical of this strictly local understanding of the church: The ecclesia of the New Testament could, and was required to assemble in one place.—This is impossible for a universal or invisible church to do. It was often required to assemble. (Matthew 18:17; 1 Cor. 11:18; 14:23.) Discipline, baptism and the Lord’s Supper could only be administered by the assembled church.10 In this understanding, Baptist catholicity would be a contradiction in terms. According to Graves, Baptist polity by definition excludes the very category of the catholic or universal church. The majority in Baptist history, however, has rejected this Landmarkist, strictly local understanding of the church. As James Tull has noted, “Prior to the publication of the New Hampshire Confession of Faith in 1833, every major confession in the history of

10

J. R. Graves, Old Landmarkism: What Is It? (Texarkana, TX: Bogard Press, 1980), ch. 3. See also the writings of Amos Cooper Dayton. Interestingly, the third member of the Landmarkist “Triumvirate,” J. M. Pendleton, did not deny the notion of the universal church. See James E. Tull, HighChurch Baptists in the South: The Origin, Nature, and Influence of Landmarkism (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2000), 44. For more on the history of the Landmark movement, see James Leo Garrett, Baptist Theology: A Four Century Study (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2009), 213–48.

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Baptists affirmed belief in the ‘catholick’ or universal church.”11 Both General and Particular Baptist confessions are included in this assessment. To select just two of the more prominent Baptist confessions, consider the following affirmations from the Particular Baptists’ Second London Baptist Confession of Faith (1677; accepted by the General Assembly in 1689) and the General Baptists’ Orthodox Creed (1678), respectively: 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. There is one holy Catholick Church, consisting of, or made up of the whole number of the Elect; that have been, are, or shall be gathered, in one Body under Christ, the only Head thereof: Which Church is gathered by Special Grace, and the Powerful and Internal Work of the Spirit; and are effectually united unto Christ their Head, and can never fall away. Not only do these confessions explicitly affirm the catholicity of the church, but in a sense their very composition exhibits a kind of Baptist catholicity in that they were written, in part, to demonstrate the Baptists’ solidarity with their fellow non-conformists, the Presbyterians and Congregationalists, and the doctrines set forth in their confessional standards, the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) and the Savoy Declaration (1658). Thus the Second London Confession and the Orthodox Creed could be said to represent a kind of principled Baptist ecumenism. Certainly, revisions were made to accommodate Baptist polity and sacramental theology, but the common Reformation doctrines originally set forth in the Westminster Confession were left largely intact.12

11

Tull, High-Church Baptists, 45. This is not to say that the New Hampshire confession was Landmarkist in its theology. As Tull points out, its preface does mention “the Church” and her “Great Head.” Ibid., 6. 12 For a tabular comparison of the Westminster, Savoy, and Baptist symbols, see http://www.proginosko.com/docs/wcf_sdfo_lbcf.html, accessed January 6, 2015.

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Individual Baptist writers have also affirmed the catholicity of the church. The list is too long to chronicle here, but we could cite Keach, Gill, Fuller, Spurgeon, Mullins, and Erickson among others who affirm that the NT sometimes uses the word “church” in a universal sense. The first writing systematician among the Southern Baptists, John Dagg, is representative of the kinds of biblical arguments marshaled by these writers in defense of the universal church: The following are examples in which the word [“church”] is used with this wide signification: “Gave him to be the head over all things to the church” [Eph. 1:22]. “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end” [3:21]. Let any one attempt to interpret these and similar passages, on the supposition that the term church always denotes a body of Christians assembling at one place—as the church at Rome, at Corinth, or at Ephesus—and he will become fully convinced, that the interpretation is inadmissible. In some of the passages the extension of the term to the whole body of believers, is perfectly apparent. In others, though it is not so apparent that the entire body is intended, yet this signification perfectly harmonizes with the use of the term, the context, and scope of the passage.13 For Dagg, these verses do not use the word “church” merely as a generic term (as the Landmarkists claimed) but as a genuinely collective term, describing all true believers in Christ wherever they may be found. In this Dagg is consistent with the majority Baptist tradition. But the question remains as to whether and how this catholicity is or ought to be expressed in this age prior to the return of Christ. Harmon points out, “When Baptists have affirmed catholicity as a mark of the church, they have tended to understand catholicity in terms of the church’s invisible or ‘mystical’ oneness.” He points to the Orthodox Creed, cited above, which speaks of catholicity in terms of the “mystical body

13

John Leadley Dagg, Manual of Church Order (Charleston, SC: Southern Baptist Publication Society, 1859), 100–1.

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of Christ.”14 Harmon wishes to encourage Baptists toward a more visible catholicity expressed in common eucharistic fellowship and ecclesial life across denominational lines. This stronger, more ecumenical understanding of catholicity is obviously more controversial, but any evangelical engagement with these movements toward Baptist catholicity will have to wrestle with Harmon’s call for a more visible and ecclesiastically meaningful understanding of catholicity. Beyond these terminological disputes, Baptist engagement with the catholicity of the church must also account for what might be called the “catholic sensibilities” of the earliest Baptists. A study of the first century of the Baptist movement (in seventeenthcentury England) seems to indicate a greater awareness among Baptists of their place in the broad sweep of Christian tradition. For example, both the General and Particular Baptist confessions that emerged during this period either explicitly affirmed the ecumenical creeds (e.g., the Orthodox Creed) or else included clearly creedal language in their expositions of the Trinity and the person of Christ (e.g., the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith). Seventeenth-century Baptists also tended to have a more robust theology of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, a greater willingness to engage Patristic thought, and a greater sense of spiritual connectionalism within their own associations and their broader Protestant context. Baptists trended away from these catholic sensibilities in the next three centuries (for a host of interesting and disputed reasons),15 but their seventeenth-century beginnings were a far cry from the no-creed-but-the-Bible

14

Harmon, Towards Baptist Catholicity, 203. Harmon discusses some of these reasons, which may include freedoms granted by religious toleration, philosophical shifts resulting from the Enlightenment, and the prevalence of individualism once the Baptist movement migrated to an American context, in Harmon, Towards Baptist Catholicity, 80–81. 15

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naiveté that would come to characterize the Baptist movement in some (particularly North American) quarters. We cannot leave this brief discussion of the history of Baptist engagement with catholicity without making mention of what is perhaps the noblest expression of the church’s catholicity, namely, the missionary task of the church. If anything has characterized the Baptist movement in its four-hundred-year history, it is its evangelistic and missionary impulse. Baptists in both England and the New World stood at the fountainhead of the modern missionary movement. Baptists were among the most zealously active in the evangelical awakenings of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As Baptist theologian Stephen Holmes has noted, Roman Catholics have explicitly grounded missionary work in their notion of the church’s catholicity. Holmes points out that while Baptists have not argued similarly, they would have good warrant for doing so and leveraging belief in the catholicity of the church in the service of Christian mission, which has always been at the heart of the Baptist vision.16 Evangelical Baptist Catholicity Today We now turn our attention to sketching out how evangelical Baptist catholicity might take shape in our own context. We will consider this question from five different angles: creed, cult, code, community, and canon. To state it differently, we will consider how Baptists ought to relate to the universal church in terms of doctrine, worship, practice, ecumenicity, and biblical authority.

16

Stephen R. Holmes, Baptist Theology (London: T&T Clark, 2012), 100.

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Creed “No creed but the Bible.” It has not been uncommon to hear this biblicist mantra or one like it on the lips of Baptists—even some prominent Baptists—over the last two centuries. But from the beginning it was not so. Indeed, this idea of a creedless Christianity was not technically a Baptist invention but a Restorationist one, associated especially with former-Baptist-turned-Restorationist leader Alexander Campbell.17 From its beginnings in seventeenth-century England, the Baptist movement has been marked by the proliferation of various confessional statements. Neither did the earliest Baptists draw a sharp distinction between creeds and confessions, as if the former were impermissible and the latter permissible.18 We have already made note of the Orthodox Creed of 1678, the confessional symbol of the General Baptists. Even more telling than its title is the Orthodox Creed’s explicit affirmation of the three ancient ecumenical creeds: The three creeds, viz. Nicene Creed, Athanasius’s Creed, and the Apostles Creed, as they are commonly called, ought throughly to be received, and believed. For we believe, they may be proved, by most undoubted authority of holy Scripture, and are necessary to be understood of all christians; and to be instructed in the knowledge of them, by the ministers of Christ, according to the analogy of Faith, recorded in sacred Scriptures, upon which these Creeds are grounded, and catechistically opened, and expounded in all christian families, for the edification of young and old; which might be a means to prevent heresy in doctrine, and practice, these creeds containing all things in a brief manner, that are necessary to be known, fundamentally, in order to our salvation.19 According to William Lumpkin, “The [Orthodox] Creed is alone among Baptist confessions in including and setting forth the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian

17

There were other baptistic Restorationists with Scottish roots that influenced the StoneCampbell movement, such as the Haldanes and the Sandemanians. For more on these groups, see Michael W. Casey and Douglas Allen Foster, “The Renaissance of Stone-Campbell Studies: An Assessment and New Directions,” in The Stone-Campbell Movement: An International Religious Tradition, ed. Michael W. Casey and Douglas Allen Foster (Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 2002), 33–35. 18 Harmon, Towards Baptist Catholicity, 34. 19 “The Orthodox Creed,” in William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith (Valley Forge, PA: Judson, 1969), 337.

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Creeds.”20 The other prominent seventeenth century Baptist confessions, while not explicitly including the three creeds, certainly affirmed the substance of the ancient creeds in terms of their Trinitarian and christological conclusions. Harmon observes that explicitly patristic language was utilized in the earliest Baptist confessions as far back as John Smyth’s 1609 Short Confession of Faith in XX Articles, which closely follows the language of Chalcedon when it speaks of Christ as “true God and true man . . . taking to himself, in addition, the true and pure nature of a man, out of rational soul, and existing in a true human body.”21 The same could be said of the other major seventeenth-century Baptist symbols, including the two London confessions of the Particular Baptists.22 But what role should creeds and confessions play in contemporary Baptist life? The literature on this question is voluminous, especially in the wake of the late Inerrancy Controversy in the Southern Baptist Convention. Our aim here is to focus on a narrower question, namely, what role should the ecumenical creeds—the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds—play in contemporary Baptist life? This question is more germane to a discussion of Baptist catholicity precisely because these creeds are ecumenical: they belong not to one denomination of churches but to the worldwide church in all its manifold expressions. While we celebrate the explicit use of creedal language in the seventeenth-century Particular Baptist confessions, we are persuaded that the Midlands General Baptists who composed the Orthodox Creed chose the better part in their explicit affirmation of the ecumenical creeds in their entirety. Before we are evangelicals—before 20

William Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith, 296. Cited in Harmon, Towards Baptist Catholicity, 74. 22 For more on the seventeenth-century Baptist confessions, see Philip E. Thompson, “Seventeenth-century Baptist Confessions in Context,” Perspectives in Religious Studies 29/4 (Winter 2002): 335–48. On the catholic spirit exemplified among the seventeenth century General Baptists, see idem., “A New Question in Baptist History: Seeking A Catholic Spirit Among Early Baptists,” Pro Ecclesia 8/1 (Winter 1999): 51–72. 21

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we are Baptists—we are Christians, and the Trinitarian and christological formulae expressed in the ecumenical creeds have served and continue to serve as the touchstone for Christian orthodoxy. So we encourage Baptist churches and associations to consider affirming the ecumenical creeds in their own confessions of faith. We encourage churches to recite the creeds in their corporate worship gatherings. We encourage pastors, Sunday school teachers, and small group leaders to consider teaching through the doctrinal content contained in the creeds, showing their biblical foundations and their practical import. In short, we would seek a re-visioning of Baptist identity along explicitly creedal lines: receiving, affirming, teaching, and defending the “faith once for all delivered to the saints” as it has been succinctly expressed and handed down in the ecumenical creeds. But is this really Baptist? How can free church Baptists give such a full-throated affirmation of the authority of the creeds? Our moderate Baptist counterparts would suggest that the creeds can serve at most as expressions of worship and as helpful summaries of the biblical story, but not as a list of binding doctrinal propositions.23 We would certainly not say less of the creeds than that they serve as expressions of our devotion to the Triune God and the redemptive narrative that gives shape to our common life with other believers, but we would also wish to say more.24 Moderate Baptists often

23

Steven R. Harmon, “Do Real Baptists Recite Creeds?” http://ecclesialtheology.blogspot.com/2010/10/do-real-baptists-recite-creeds.html, accessed January 6, 2015. 24 The postliberal/postconservative distinction may help to illuminate both the similarities and the differences between the more moderate, Bapto-Catholic proposals and our own more evangelical approach to Baptist Catholicity. Moderates such as Harmon and Freeman identify with a cultural-linguistic, Lindbeckian perspective, while we resonate more with the “canonical-linguistic” perspective of Kevin Vanhoozer in his works on theological methodology. See Harmon, Towards Baptist Catholicity, 65–66, 89–91; and Freeman, Contesting Catholicity, xi, 5, 31, 81. For the alternative (and in our estimation more biblically faithful) canonical-linguistic approach of Vanhoozer, see Is There A Meaning in This Text? The Bible, The Reader, and the Morality of Literary Knowledge (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998); and

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set up a false dichotomy when it comes to the use of creeds in Baptist life: creeds can serve either as non-binding expressions of faith and worship or in coercive and, therefore, decidedly un-Baptist ways. Conservative, evangelical Baptists would agree that creeds and confessions cannot coerce consciences, but they can and should be used to delimit voluntary and mutual fellowship and cooperation—both within each individual church and within our associational bonds. So in this sense, conservative Baptists are poised to affirm a more robust sense of the authority of the creeds, as local churches and associations voluntarily consent to their use. The creeds possess no Scripture-independent authority, and no ecclesiastical institution can invest them with authority they don’t already possess as faithful renderings of biblical truth. Evangelical Baptists would echo the language of Thomas Oden, who speaks of the authority of the creeds in terms of historical “consensus” grounded in the authority of Scripture. Inasmuch as the ecumenical creeds set forth the basic contours of the biblical God and gospel, they, again to quote the Orthodox Creed, “ought throughly to be received, and believed”—and utilized in the preaching, liturgical, and catechetical ministries of the church. Cult An evangelical Baptist catholicity will also recognize the church’s liturgical life has deep biblical and historical roots and appropriate those patterns and practices biblically mandated or in accord with biblical wisdom. With respect to biblical support for liturgical forms, the life of the people of God has always been patterned in ways that call attention to its sanctified place among the nations. Israel’s cultic and communal practices, and idem, The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical-Linguistic Approach to Christian Theology (Louisville. KY: Westminster John Knox, 2005).

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especially its ritual calendar, regularly reminded God’s people that their life together was rhythmically, and thus spiritually and theologically, distinct from Tyre and Sidon, Babylon and Assyria, Egypt and Moab.25 While the New Testament certainly removes all ethnic boundary markers from the now global people of God (one thinks especially here of Jesus’s work on the Sabbath and Paul’s words in Col. 2:16–1726), it does not annihilate all sense of rhythm for the church’s worship. From the admonition in Hebrews 10:25 not to neglect meeting together, to Paul’s instructions on how to organize corporate worship and the exercise of spiritual gifts within it (1 Corinthians 14), the NT still sees the people of God worshiping together in regular intervals and in an organized fashion. If we add to this the seemingly liturgical organization of the book of Revelation,27 as well as the subordinately important but still relevant historical practice of the early church, the earliest Christians retained the wisdom of Israel’s worship patterns while moving beyond its geopolitical and ethnic restrictions. There is also wisdom in repeated practices in corporate worship. While as Baptists we strongly affirm the priority of the preached Word in worship and reject any kind of bare ritualism, many of the church’s historical worship practices have served precisely to emphasize the Word—prayed, sung, confessed, pictured, and heeded. In addition to the biblical argument for rhythmic worship practices cited above,28 a

25

Harvey, Can These Bones Live?, 57–91. “Let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” Of course, if one continues to read the passage, the issue is not ritual per se but repeating practices for the sake of “asceticism and severity to the body.” 27 For the idea that Revelation is broadly liturgical, see, e.g., G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, 797n52; and G. B. Caird, New Testament Theology (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1994), 184. 28 To which we could also add a discussion of patterns of worship and the created order in the wisdom of Proverbs. See Craig G. Bartholomew and Ryan P. O’Dowd, Old Testament Wisdom Literature: A Theological Introduction (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2011), 95. 26

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theological and philosophical case can be made as well. For example, James K. A. Smith has cogently argued that our embodied habits shape our desires and loves.29 While the world seeks to shape and form its citizens through what Smith calls the “liturgy of the mall,” the church must provide an alternative formative liturgy, one that calls its people toward true reality and away from the façade of the world’s telos and toward the end of the Christian life, Christlikeness. Repeated prayers, confessions, hymns, and ordinances, if practiced in faith, transform the believer through these embodied spiritual exercises and are thus an integral part of the sanctification of the believer and growth of the church. These repeated practices do not replace or supersede the preached Word but rather complement and undergird it. While there is ample biblical and theological warrant for liturgical life, an evangelical Baptist catholicity must still ask which liturgical practices of the church are biblically sound and in accordance with biblical wisdom. In our estimation, these practices include but are not limited to repeated prayers of thanksgiving, confession, and praise; the recitation of creeds and confessions; the corporate recitation of the Lord’s Prayer each week; corporate and responsive Scripture readings; multiple Scripture lessons from various parts of the biblical canon (perhaps using a lectionary as a guide); prayers for illumination prior to the reading and preaching of the Word; regular (preferably weekly) observance of the Lord’s Supper, and saying the words of institution in its observance; and regular baptisms. One of the distinctive contributions of Baptists to the history of Christian worship is their emphasis on biblically informed and congregationally expressive hymns. David 29

James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation, Cultural Liturgies 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009); and idem, Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works, Cultural Liturgies 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013).

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Music and Paul Richardson have suggested that “in some respects, congregational singing has served Baptists as a substitute for the prescribed ritual order of worship found in other traditions,” and that the “worship of Baptist churches has been centered upon the activities of preaching and congregational singing.”30 As far back as Benjamin Keach, Baptists were making a name for themselves through their hymnody, and this aspect of Baptist worship provides a positive contribution of Baptists to the church’s liturgical heritage. Still, though, there is more to appropriate than hymnody in the search for a visible unity with the body of Christ, and this includes another important aspect of evangelical Baptist catholicity, namely, our distinctive understanding of the ordinances, or sacraments. While the term “sacrament” may invoke suspicion and perhaps fear on the part of many Baptists, we are of the opinion that this need not be the case. First, it is instructive to note that many of the earliest Baptists had no qualms using the term “sacrament” to describe baptism and the Lord’s Supper. While it is true that the Second London Confession changed Westminster’s “sacraments” to “ordinances,” many of its signatories were perfectly comfortable using both terms interchangeably.31 Second, “sacramental” need not imply “sacerdotal” or “sacramentarian,” and we do not use the word to denote any sort of sacerdotal or ex opera operato understanding of the

30

David W. Music and Paul Akers Richardson, “I Will Sing the Wondrous Story”: A History of Baptist Hymnody in North America (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2008), xi. 31 See Michael A. G. Haykin, “‘His Soul-Refreshing Presence’: The Lord’s Supper in Calvinistic Baptist Thought and Experience in the ‘Long’ Eighteenth Century,” in Anthony R. Cross and Philip E. Thompson, eds., Baptist Sacramentalism, Studies in Baptist History and Thought 5 (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2003), 177–93; and Stanley K. Fowler, More Than A Symbol: The British Baptist Recovery of Baptismal Sacramentalism, Studies in Baptist History and Thought 2 (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2002), 10–82.

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ordinances.32 As Schreiner and Wright note, part of the reticence of Baptists to adopt the term “sacrament” is due to definitional ambiguity, even in recent attempts to revive and properly define it.33 To clear up any confusion, then, in the way we are using it, “sacramental” simply conveys the idea that the ordinances are not merely tokens of the believer’s faith but are also divinely-appointed, material means through which God confirms and strengthens the faith of believers. We believe this understanding of the sacraments is consistent with Scripture and the theology of the earliest Baptists.34 Because faith is requisite to the efficacy of these means, we believe Baptists are actually in a better position than their Reformed paedobaptist brethren to affirm a robust sense of the sacramentality of both the Lord’s Supper and baptism. While we would reject any notion of baptismal regeneration (whether Roman Catholic or Campbellite35), we would not wish to affirm less than that which Scripture itself affirms, namely, that baptism is closely associated with the complex of events that occurs in a person’s conversion to Christ. We would echo the conclusion of Robert Stein on this point: “Within the book of Acts water-baptism ‘in/into the name of Jesus/Lord Jesus/Jesus Christ’ is understood as an essential part of becoming a Christian, along with repentance, faith in Jesus, and confession of Jesus as Christ and

32

H. Wheeler Robinson made a similar distinction between sacramentalism, which he affirmed, and sacramentarianism, which he rejected. See the discussion in Anthony R. Cross, “The Pneumatological Key to H. Wheeler Robinson’s Baptist Sacramentalism,” in Anthony R. Cross and Philip E. Thompson, eds., Baptist Sacramentalism (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2003), 158–59. 33 See Thomas R. Shreiner and Shawn D. Wright, “Introduction,” in Thomas R. Schreiner and Shawn D. Wright, eds., Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ, NAC Studies in Bible and Theology (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2006), 2n4. Note that their critique is leveled particularly at Fowler, More Than a Symbol, and his lack of clarity, in the end, in defining what he means by “sacramental.” 34 See Fowler’s discussion of seventeenth-century Baptists in More Than a Symbol, 10–32. 35 Note also the affinity with the Campbellite baptismal theology of some British Baptist sacramentalists. See Fowler’s comparison of the two in More Than a Symbol, 240–46.

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Lord.”36 Indeed, baptism is the unique act of obedience outwardly manifesting the inward spiritual change of the new believer, and for this reason can aid Baptists in their quest for an objective sign of a subjective decision. It is the visible sign of an invisible grace. Likewise, while we reject any physical or corporeal presence of the Lord in the elements of the Lord’s Supper, we do affirm that the eucharistic meal involves believers in a real, spiritual participation (koinōnia) in the body and blood of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16) and that Christ himself is somehow present to the faithful at the Lord’s Table—a position that Zwingli himself appears to have affirmed, even if the position that bears his name is associated with a more pared-down memorialism.37 Third, and related to this last point, there is ample biblical evidence for the appropriation of a more sacramental understanding of the Lord’s Supper and baptism, and even of preaching. Paul speaks of the fellowship both within the church and with Christ himself that is instantiated in the Supper (1 Cor 10:14–21); Jesus says that he will not drink of the fruit of the vine with his people until his kingdom comes (Luke 22:18), and that his kingdom is inaugurated and established in his death and resurrection;38 baptism is regularly connected with repentance, forgiveness of sins,39 and union with Christ in his death and resurrection (e.g., Rom. 6:1–4; Col. 2:12).40 There is, in other

36

Robert H. Stein, “Baptism in Luke-Acts,” in Schreiner and Wright, eds., Believer’s Baptism, 63. Haykin, drawing on Derek R. Moore-Crispin, notes the ambiguity of whether Zwingli himself held to what is now commonly referred to as the memorialist position. Haykin, “‘His Soul-Refreshing Presence,’” 178. The Moore-Crispin essay to which Haykin refers is “‘The Real Absence’: Ulrich Zwingli’s View of the Lord’s Supper,” in Union and Communion, 1529–1979 (London: Westminster Conference, 1979), 22–34. 38 Peter Bolt, The Cross from a Distance: Atonement in Mark’s Gospel, NSBT 18, ed. D. A. Carson (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2004), 85–115. 39 See Stanley K. Porter, “Baptism in Acts: The Sacramental Dimension,” in Baptism Sacramentalism, ed. Cross and Thompson, 117–28; and Stein, “Baptism in Acts.” 40 Baptists have explained these connections in various ways, some opting for a stronger sacramentalism and others for a bare memorialism. In any case, it appears that baptism is the special and first act of obedience that demonstrates saving faith and so is, in some way—even on a bare memorialist view—connected with conversion. We do not wish to spell out the specifics here, but wish only to point out 37

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words, a sense in which the creational elements of bread and wine and water communicate to believers the truths of the gospel. They are visible signs of an invisible grace, utilized by the Spirit to signify and assure believers’ union with Christ in his death and resurrection and their union with one another as the called out people of God. We might even speak of preaching in sacramental terms. Preaching also uses created matter—namely the preacher, the hearers, the written Word, and the mechanics of aurality—as means to communicate God’s Word to his people. Thus, in some sense, we can speak of preaching as properly sacramental.41 In sum, a Baptist recovery of a biblically-based liturgical and sacramental life holds the promise of drawing Baptists into closer connection with the historic church in both spiritual and visibly demonstrable ways. Code Arising directly out of cult is code, by which we mean the individual spiritual life of the believer. Many may think of a religion’s code simply in terms of its moral principles and precepts, but we are using the term here in a broader sense to refer to the Christian way of life.42 While the NT places a certain priority on corporate worship, the private devotional life of each Christian is also important.43 The Great Tradition offers a number of helpful tools for Christians to use in their pursuit of biblical spirituality, including, for instance, the Book of Common Prayer. The Book of Common Prayer may be especially helpful in that baptism is connected with actions that convey conversion and faith and is therefore in some way an activity that visibly communicates the truths of an invisible grace—i.e., it is in some sense sacramental. 41 See Brian Haynes, “Towards a Sacramental Understanding of Preaching,” in Baptism Sacramentalism, ed. Cross and Thompson, 263–70. 42 This is not foreign to the way the Old Testament speaks of the Law, especially of the Ten Commandments. They are more than rules; they are a way of life. 43 Michael Horton speaks of Reformation spirituality as a “cascading phenomenon,” flowing down from corporate worship to family and private devotions. See Michael Horton, “Reformation Piety,” Modern Reformation 11 (July/August 2002): 15.

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the retrieval of an evangelical Baptist catholicity because it constitutes an expression of the traditional Western liturgical rites refracted through the prism of Reformational theology. The Daily Office guides Christians in reading the whole Bible together; reminds them of their connection to the larger body of Christ through recitation of the Apostles’ Creed, the Commemoration, and the prayers for churches around the world; and assists them in their own prayers. This suggestion may sound odd since many early Baptists lost their lives and freedom because of their rejection of the Book of Common Prayer. We are not arguing for a coercive use, as the Anglicans did at that time, but only for the realization that this particular resource may be of help to Baptists today, even while in some ways an ironic choice. Other aids in the realm of spirituality include the collection of Puritan prayers The Valley of Vision, the mystic tradition, and reflections from monastic life. Of course, each of these should be weighed against Scripture and, wherever they are found wanting, abandoned. But there is still a treasure trove of spirituality to be gained through the church catholic. Code also speaks to the pattern of life of the believer. Barry Harvey draws out the implications of following Christ by arguing for a cross-shaped, or cruciform, way of life.44 Rooting oneself and one’s spirituality in the corporate life of the church produces this cruciformity and roots the believer in the larger mission of the church—to “proclaim Jesus’ death until he returns” (1 Cor. 11:26). Community Given these calls for greater visible and spiritual catholicity in various practices of the local church, how might Baptists promote visible and spiritual catholicity with the larger 44

Harvey, Can These Bones Live?, 233–64.

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body of Christ? We want to suggest here that Baptists think in concentric circles, beginning with their own local church, the heart of Baptist life, and moving outward. Other than the practices mentioned in the previous three sections, we also want to promote catholicity in local Baptist churches through prayer for other local congregations. Asking God to grant other churches in the area grace to preach, hear, pray, sing, and proclaim the Word to their surrounding community is a tangible means of demonstrating unity with other local assemblies. Moving outward, Baptists can evidence catholicity also on the associational level. Among our own denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, depending on oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s locale, meaningful associations seem to be well past the point of decline. Although we cannot speak for other evangelical Baptists, we suspect this may be the case elsewhere as well. Working together with other like-minded Baptists is the first step past the local church level in moving toward visible catholicity. Similarly, local Baptist churches can work together with other local evangelical churches when appropriate. Pastors meeting together regularly, churches finding areas to serve the community together, and churches working on evangelistic efforts together can foster this type of catholic engagement on a local and perhaps regional level. From a denominational level, there is fruitful, encouraging, and seemingly evergrowing cooperation within the SBC, especially with respect to missions and evangelism. This has always been the premier place for evidenced catholicity within our own denomination, and we suspect the same may be true for other evangelical Baptists. Nevertheless, there are still ways that Baptists, and specifically the SBC, can evidence even greater catholicity. The most obvious example comes in regards to Calvinism.

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While we would never urge Southern Baptists to neglect theological reflection on the great salvation provided to us in Christ, there has been too much infighting about the systematic mechanics of the atonement. This is now to the point that discussions of soteriology often devolve into “one upping” opposing viewpoints instead of magnifying God in Christ. To paraphrase an old hymn, “Let there be catholicity in the SBC, and let it begin with me.” Finally, evangelical Baptists can work toward catholicity with other evangelical traditions and indeed other Christian traditions. This happens particularly through dialogue. The recent Biola panel discussion “The Future of Protestantism” is a good example of Christians from different traditions working through doctrinal and ecclesial issues. Another opportunity for dialogue exists in reading and engaging with other Baptists and other Christians around the world, especially those from non-Western cultures. This type of interdenominational, and by implication inter-traditional, and global discussion is necessary for catholicity to be truly biblical and doctrinally sound catholicity.45 Of course, for evangelical Baptists, this catholicity is by necessity principled. In other words, calling for dialogue here does not mean suggesting evangelical Baptists move away from their core convictions. It does mean, however, that we should acknowledge and be willing to learn from those outside our own tradition, including non-evangelical traditions.

45

For an example, see Anthony R. Cross’s description of H. Wheeler Robinson’s “principled catholicity” in “The Pneumatological Key to H. Wheeler Robinson’s Baptismal Sacramentalism,” in Cross and Thompson, eds., Baptist Sacramentalism, 151–76.

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Canon A final way Baptists can promote catholicity on both visible and spiritual levels is through more explicitly engaging with the history of the church’s reception of Scripture and its interpretive practices. While it might make sense organizationally to discuss canon first, prior especially to creed and cult, we have saved it until last because we feel this is what makes our vision of catholicity explicitly Baptist. We as a people are ultimately beholden to Scripture, not a Romish or paper pope. Therefore Baptists are in a unique place both to be called to a greater catholicity and to call other denominations and Christian traditions back to the Bible on issues that divide us. We believe there are at least three ways Baptists can think more catholicly about Scripture. First, with respect to the canon, Baptists would do well to recognize the place of the church in the formation of Scripture. Although we want to reject the communitarian model of canonization promoted by, for instance, George Lindbeck and the moderate Bapto-Catholics that follow him,46 we want also to urge Baptists to affirm that the church, as God’s people led by the Holy Spirit, recognized the books of the Bible as inspired by that same Spirit and as testifying to Jesus Christ. We thus reject the twosource view of authority, where the church creates the canon that then governs the church, but instead are arguing that the church’s role in canonization was one of affirmation, not creation. While the church is not the source of the canon, then, it is also not absent in its formation—indeed, it is fully present in its Spirit-guided reception of the Spirit-inspired Scriptures. 46

This is a key distinction between our project and those preceding us from a moderate Baptist viewpoint, namely Harmon’s work. While Harmon and other moderate Bapto-Catholics work from a communitarian model of authority, we want to affirm a more robust sense of divine authority through the Spirit-inspired Word in the vein of Kevin Vanhoozer’s (who is responding mainly to Lindbeck) The Drama of Doctrine.

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This recognition of the church’s affirmation of the canon, which John Webster calls its humble submission to the canon’s authority,47 brings us to hermeneutics and the rule of faith, an area in which we believe evangelical Baptists could become more engaged with the early church’s rationales and methods.48 The early church affirmed the Spirit’s inspiration of the Bible, and their primary rationale for determining both a book’s inspiration and a properly Spirit-illumined reading of that book was its testimony to Jesus Christ.49 In short, the early church read the Bible as a book whose primary content was christological. They were in tune with the biblical authors’ techniques and testimony, perhaps more so than we today. Baptists would do well to come to a greater appreciation of the early church’s reading strategies and methods, as it will push us to become more christologically focused in our reading and preaching. We are a people of the Book because the Book is Christ’s Book, inspired by his Spirit who testifies to him. Engaging with and learning from the historic interpretive practices and approaches of the church throughout space and time is thus a tangible means of promoting visible Baptist catholicity. Finally, Baptists can express greater catholicity in their understanding of authority, both the Bible’s and the derivative authority it gives to each local church’s ministers. In contrast to a communitarian model of authority, where the canon simply functions as the church’s grammar but by implication has no ontological, extrinsic authority, Baptists want to affirm that the canon, as the Spirit-inspired Word that testifies

47

John Webster, Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch, Current Issues in Theology (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 42–67, esp. 62–63. 48 Note for instance the increase of PhDs in Patristics under Michael Haykin at SBTS. 49 On the centrality of a christological reading for the early church, see John J. O’Keefe and R. R. Reno, Sanctified Vision: An Introduction to Early Christian Interpretation of the Bible (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005), 24–44.

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to the Son who reveals the Father, stands over the church and each local church. It is not simply a consultant, or even merely a guide, but a regent that speaks the Word of the Triune King. Thus when the ministers of each local church proclaim this Word rightly, they are speaking with the authority of the Word of God. Likewise, when the congregation acts in concord with this Word, they are acting with the authority of the Word of God. They are turning the keys of the kingdom, given to them by Christ, binding and loosing what the Word has already bound and loosed. Congregations and their ministers thus both stand under the canon’s authority and act with its authority. Speaking of the canon in these terms both brings Baptists more visibly and theologically in line with other Christian traditions’ talk of authority and, at the same time, corrects these other traditions’ tendency toward ecclesiasticism. It is therefore properly catholic in that it recognizes what is good in other Christian traditions while also calling those traditions to reform where needed. Conclusion North American evangelical Baptists have a significant opportunity to join in the global church’s ongoing discussion about catholicity. While appreciating the work already done by moderate Bapto-Catholics and British Baptists, evangelical Baptists can contribute to the conversation by introducing a more evangelical approach to canonical authority, reminding our brethren of the priority of the preached Word in worship, and drawing on the resources given to us by previous Baptists, namely their principled ecumenism and hymnody. At the same time, evangelical Baptists can evince greater catholicity by reengaging with the ecumenical creeds, the church’s historic interpretive practices, the historic liturgical life of the church, and the ongoing conversations between traditions. In

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doing so, Baptists can both strengthen and be strengthened by Christâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s church in its manifold expressions around the globe.

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BAPTISTS AND THE APOSTOLICITY OF THE CHURCH By James A. Patterson1 One of the more vivid memories from my home church experience during the 1950s and early 1960s was the two-week Daily Vacation Bible School, held annually under the typically hot and humid conditions of southern New Jersey summers in a building that offered only scattered window air conditioners. In fact, kindergarten through eighth grade students gathered every morning in the naturally “cooled” sanctuary of First Baptist Church of Cherry Hill for opening exercises led by the DVBS director, Mrs. Hilda Q. Walton. This erstwhile Presbyterian prompted us through pledges to the American and Christian flags, as well as to the Bible. We then recited the Apostles’ Creed in about the only venue that I recall—apart from a few local interdenominational gatherings—where we Baptists voiced our agreement with the most enduring of all Christian confessional statements. Our hearty recitations of the Creed undoubtedly masked our confusion over phrases like “He descended into hell,” which no one ever explained to us, or the “catholic church,” which a pastor finally informed us meant “universal.” Since Queen of Heaven Roman Catholic Church—with its inviting outdoor basketball courts—was only a block away, and there were Catholic children who sometimes attended our Bible school, we surely required that instruction.

1

James A. Patterson, PhD, is University Professor of Christian Thought and Tradition and Acting Dean, School of Theology and Missions, Union University.

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As I have pondered my early Christian nurture, it strikes me that as an impressionable youth I was being exposed to one of the long-term tensions in our Baptist tradition. On one hand, we have stoutly defended the independence and autonomy of our local congregations over against the threat of any ecclesiastical authority that might try to interfere with what we do in our individual churches. On the other hand, many of us simultaneously have demonstrated sensitivity to a universal impulse that has allowed for cooperative efforts by Baptist congregations to fulfill mutual missional goals, and even joint collaboration on some matters with those outside of the Baptist fold who might be considered part of “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” At the time I received my DVBS degree, my home church was known officially as the Erlton Community Baptist Church, because for a period after World War II it was the only organized church in what was then called Delaware Township. As a community church, it practiced both open communion and open membership—my own mother was never baptized as a believer, and the same was likely true of Mrs. Walton. Thus, DVBS in my local Baptist congregation facilitated an early awareness of the more universal dimension of our faith when we affirmed the Apostles’ Creed each morning.2 This autobiographical journey, of course, should not imply that I came to a mature understanding of my Baptist beliefs as “apostolic” at such a young age. For a long time I had no clear notion of why this ancient formula was referred to as the Apostles’ Creed; it was not until my first year in seminary in the fall of 1970 that I learned of the dubious

2

I have discussed the local/universal dynamic in Baptist ecclesiology with particular reference to the Lord’s Supper in James A. Patterson, “Participation at the Lord’s Table: Historical Reflections on Local and Universal Impulses in Baptist Ecclesiology,” SBC Life (Winter 2012/2013): 16–17.

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tradition that the apostles themselves had composed the Creed on the Day of Pentecost.3 As I continued my biblical and church historical studies, however, I became convinced that the Apostles’ Creed in its earliest versions was a faithful reflection of what the firstcentury apostles taught, preached, and wrote. Hence, the Creed’s content could legitimately be labeled “apostolic.” Moreover, I developed a similar conviction that other creedal affirmations, such as the Nicene Creed and the Definition of Chalcedon, warranted the classification “apostolic,” not because they were set forth by bishops who claimed to stand in some unbroken line of apostolic succession, but because these statements—for the most part—conform to scriptural teaching.4 As a Baptist and a Protestant, I uphold the Reformation dictum of suprema scriptura as the preferred norm for determining whether doctrines, practices, and traditions are genuinely apostolic.5 Furthermore, I am persuaded by my friend and fellow Baptist historian Nathan Finn’s articulation of a “continualist orthodoxy” model for linking first-century apostolic teaching with later applications and interpretations that were framed in unique historical contexts. The SEBTS professor correctly notes the essential relationship between the apostolic witness in Scripture and subsequent clarifications in councils and creeds: “Our task is not to refine biblical nuggets into theological gold, but to communicate biblical truth in such a way that our contemporaries see the gold that is already there. We are

3

For a discussion of this questionable origin of the Apostles’ Creed, see Herbert Thurston, “Apostles’ Creed,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 1 (New York: Appleton, 1907), accessed October 19, 2014, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01629a.htm. I wanted to cite the 2003 edition of The New Catholic Encyclopedia, but its entry on the Apostles’ Creed has only one line on the legend about apostolic authorship of the Creed. See The New Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 1, s.v. “Apostles’ Creed,” accessed October 19, 2014, http://www.encyclopedia.com/article-1G2-34007700693/apostles-creed.html. 4 I am still unconvinced that the Greek term theotokos in the Definition of Chalcedon is the best way to express the relationship of Mary and her Son. 5 On this issue, I am agreement with much of what Roger E. Olson contends for in “The Tradition Temptation: Why We Should Still Give Scripture Pride of Place,” Christianity Today 47/11 (November 2003): 52–55. Olson teaches at the Baptist-related Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University.

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orthodox to the degree that we say what the apostles said, but in a way that makes sense in our particular historical moment.”6 Finn accordingly suggests a Baptist perspective on apostolicity that avoids a rigid primitivism (e.g., “no creed but the Bible”) and also is open to doctrinal formulations that emerged in distinctly non-Baptist settings. The primary difficulty with this preliminary discussion is that—by and large— Baptists since their origins in the early seventeenth century have not been especially fond of utilizing or publicly proclaiming creeds in worship or any other context.7 Nor have most Baptists been inclined to embrace a “continualist orthodoxy” that would recognize valid expressions of apostolic truth in the Roman Catholic Church or other Protestant traditions. At the same time, virtually all Baptists posit significant continuity between what the apostles wrote in the New Testament documents and what Baptists have believed and practiced since the seventeenth century. True to their nature, however, Baptists have set forth a diversity of paradigms for describing historical continuity. Those models have not produced any clear consensus on whether apostolic continuity extends to the ecumenical councils and creeds.

6

Nathan Finn, “Understanding Orthodoxy,” Credo Magazine, August 28, 2011, accessed August 29, 2011, http://www.credomag.com/2/post/2011/08/understanding-orthodoxy.html. 7 A notable exception was the opening session of the Baptist World Alliance’s Congress at London’s Exeter Hall in 1905, when Scottish Baptist Alexander Maclaren invited those in attendance to stand and repeat the Apostles’ Creed. See Alexander Maclaren, “In the Name of Christ. . . By the Power of the Spirit,” in The Life of Baptists in the Life of the World: 80 Years of the Baptist World Alliance, ed. Walter B. Shurden (Nashville, TN: (Broadman, 1985), 17. A century later, key figures in the “Baptist Catholicity” movement formally requested that the 2005 BWA Congress likewise begin with a recitation of the Apostles’ Creed. See Steven R. Harmon, Towards Baptist Catholicity: Essays on Tradition and the Baptist Vision (Milton Keynes, UK: Paternoster, 2006), 225–29. In Curtis Freeman, Contesting Catholicity: Theology for Other Baptists (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2014), 105, the author notes that the 2005 gathering indeed voiced the Creed to demonstrate the BWA’s positioning itself “in the continuity of the historic church.” Freeman, a major advocate of “Baptist Catholicity,” wryly comments that “perhaps confessing the creed more often than once every century might be a good practice to consider.”

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Apostolicity and Missions At least since the eighteenth century, Baptists have enjoyed a reputation as vigorous supporters of both home and international missions.8 Even during periods when restrictions on religious freedom curbed their abilities to evangelize, Baptists took seriously the commission given by the risen Christ to go and make disciples of the nations (Matt. 28:18–20).9 As one consequence of the eighteenth-century revivals in England and North America, Baptists came to understand more completely that the fulfillment of the Great Commission was a task extending well beyond the circle of Jesus’s original apostles. Moreover, Baptists provided notable leadership for a resurgent Protestant movement in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries aiming at extending the gospel message globally. Indeed, if Baptists had a Hall of Fame, it would surely include missionaries like William Carey, Adoniram Judson, and Lottie Moon, as well as eminent Yale missions historian Kenneth Scott Latourette, who devoted a major portion of his magnum opus to “the Great [19th] Century.”10 In some important ways, apostolicity implies a ministry of going forth and proclaiming the gospel. The Greek verb apostellō, which is the root for the noun

8

For example, Nathan Finn sees the “centrality of missions” as one of six “Recurring Themes in Baptist History,” Between the Times, accessed October 15, 2014, http://betweenthetimes.com/index.php/2014/10/15/ recurring-themes-in-baptist-history. The SBC’s Baptist Faith and Message 2000, Article XI, “Evangelism and Missions,” stresses the urgency of carrying out the Great Commission. 9 This is difficult to document profusely from seventeenth-century English Baptist confessional statements, although the Particular Baptist Somerset Confession of 1656 in Article XXIX explicitly refers to Christ’s giving gospel churches “power and abilities to propagate, to plant, to rule and order.” See William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith (Valley Forge, PA: Judson, 1959), 211. See also Article XXXIV in Lumpkin, 212–13: “That it is an ordinance of Christ, so it is the duty of his church in his authority, to send forth such brethren as are fitly gifted and qualified through the Spirit of Christ to preach the gospel to the world.” In a similar vein, the General Baptist Orthodox Creed of 1678, Article XXXI, includes a brief statement about officers of the church preaching the gospel to the world. See Lumpkin, 320. 10 Kenneth S. Latourette, History of the Expansion of Christianity, 7 vol. (New York: Harper, 1937–1945).

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apostolos, literally means “to send forth.”11 Jesus himself was the Sent One who in turn commissioned his apostles to carry out specific tasks that included preaching, teaching, and evangelizing (John 17:18 and 20:21).12 Furthermore, in the modern age the term “apostolate” has been used to refer to missionaries who take the gospel into pioneer areas to share it with unreached peoples. Therefore it is legitimate to suggest that—in a broad sense of the term—apostolicity can be measured by the faithfulness of a congregation or denomination to the work of missions and evangelism. On one level, then, a church is apostolic if it is engaged in missionary activity. It is not clear, however, that the use of “apostolic” in the four-fold notae on the true church was intended in a missional sense since these marks were incorporated in a creedal statement (Nicene-Constantinopolitan of 381) aimed at affirming orthodox teaching about the relationship of God the Father and God the Son. All the same, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School professor David Gustafson—who is not a Baptist—makes a compelling case in a series of blog posts that an apostolic church must be a missional church; for him, missionality is inherently connected to apostolicity.13 To be sure, churches seeking fidelity to New Testament norms must be missionary in character and deeds. Nevertheless, Baptists have not typically tied apostolicity directly to missions; they have been more prone to root their support for a vital missionary enterprise in the commands of Jesus found in the Gospels and Acts 1. In addition, as Gustafson points out, “Apostolicity requires not merely missionality but

11

TDNT, vol. 1, s.v. “Apostellō (Pempō),” “Apostolos.” In the latter text, John apparently uses apestalkev (the Father sent the Son) and pempō (the Son now sends the apostles) as synonyms. 13 David M. Gustafson, “Is the ‘Apostolic Church’ Missional?,” Ecclesia Semper Reformanda, accessed October 25, 2014, http://davidmgustafson.blogspot.com. See especially the postings on February 15, 2014; April 19, 2014; and May 12, 2014. 12

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orthodoxy,â&#x20AC;? citing the case of fourth-century Arian missionary Ulfilas, who spread heretical teachings to Gothic barbarians.14 In more recent times, some Baptists have downplayed theological precepts in their calls for unity built around missions. Consequently, other Baptist reflections on apostolicity have focused on the urgency of preserving biblical, apostolic, and orthodox truth. Apostolicity and Doctrinal Continuity From English General Baptists who espoused a Unitarian christology to modernists in America who transformed the priesthood of the believer into a license for individualistic departures from time-honored interpretations of Scripture, Baptists have not been immune to heresy. In fact, Baptists who have moved theologically out of historic mainstream belief have usually communicated a palpable distaste for creedal and confessional statements; they have sometimes been dismissed as too binding on Christian freedom and individual conscience. Part of the diversity in Baptist life can be explained as a result of this historical dynamic. Nonetheless, a sufficiently orthodox theological consensus that suggests a continuity of apostolic teaching can be tracked in Baptist life since the seventeenth century. Moreover, some noteworthy Baptist leaders in our day have defined apostolicity primarily as consistency with the biblical message. Mark Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, affirms continuity between the teaching of the apostles and what is held forth in authentic churches today. He emphasizes a succession of teaching based on the Bible: â&#x20AC;&#x153;The church is apostolic and is to be apostolic because it

14

Ibid., blog post on April 19, 2014.

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is founded on and is faithful to the Word of God given through the apostles.”15 Similarly, SEBTS professor John Hammett, while raising questions about the suitability of the traditional four marks for evaluating the health of the church, opts for a definition of apostolicity that stresses continuity with biblical content: “For those on earth, full apostolicity remains the quest, at least among those who see the apostolic teaching as coming with the authority of Christ himself, given to us in the New Testament, and illumined for us by the Spirit as we seek to understand its meaning and practice its precepts.”16 Neither Dever nor Hammett seems persuaded by attempts to root apostolicity in institutional or organizational continuity. The ecclesiological posture of Dever and Hammett connecting apostolicity to the faithful transmission of biblical truth rooted in Christ and his apostles well represents the historic essence of a movement that has long claimed to consist of people who hold to the Book. Examination of seventeenth-century Baptist confessions and creeds, in fact, reveals evidence of positions not far removed from those of Dever or Hammett. The statements of our forebears, although not always overtly asserting an apostolic legacy for Baptist churches, clearly professed Christ as the Head of the church. Furthermore, the confessions seem to assume that Jesus Christ’s lordship encompasses an implication of apostolic authority in that the apostles preached, ministered, and wrote in full accord with what their Lord taught and commissioned.17

15

Mark E. Dever, “The Church,” in A Theology for the Church, rev. ed., ed. Daniel L. Akin, Bruce Riley Ashford, and Kenneth Keathley (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2014), 611. 16 John S. Hammett, Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches: A Contemporary Ecclesiology (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2005), 61. Hammett, 66, prefers the gospel as the bedrock or “true sine qua non of a true church” rather than the classical marks or the Reformation marks of true preaching of the Word, proper administration of the sacraments, and faithful practice of church discipline. 17 For specific references to Christ as the Head of the church, see “A Declaration of Faith of English People Remaining at Amsterdam in Holland [Thomas Helwys’s group, 1611],” Article 9, in

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The seventeenth-century materials also contain more explicit confessional references explicitly tying the authority of Christ to the apostles. For example, the first General Baptist confession set forth by a group of churches, The Faith and Practice of Thirty Congregations, Gathered According to the Primitive Pattern (1651), cited Ephesians 2:20–21 to set forth an apostolic foundation built on Christ and the apostles: “That the only foundation of the Church of God, is the Doctrines of the Apostles or Prophets, as they spring from Jesus Christ the chief corner stone, whereupon this or any other people are to be built together as the house of God.”18 The Particular Baptist Somerset Confession of 1656 likewise utilized the Ephesians 2 passage—as well as Hebrews 2:3—to aver that Jesus Christ was the “foundation and corner stone of the gospel church whereon his apostles built.”19 These early Baptists—General and Particular—manifestly saw a natural connection between Christ the Lord of the church and the apostles who centered their teachings on Jesus’s ministry and redemptive work. Perhaps more than any other Baptist doctrinal statement of the seventeenth century, the General Baptist Orthodox Creed of 1678 combined strong Trinitarian and christological declarations with deep appreciation for apostolic doctrinal continuity persisting through the centuries. At a time when English Protestantism perceived religious and political threats from the Roman Catholic Church, the General Baptists sensed a need to occupy common ground with other Protestants against a shared enemy; these Baptists also fretted over suspicions of heresy in their own ranks. The Orthodox Creed confessed Christ as the only true Head of the church, while also acknowledging

Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions, 119; and the First London Confession of 1644 [Particular Baptist], Article XXXIII, in Lumpkin, 165. 18 The Faith and Practice of Thirty Congregations, Article 51, in Lumpkin, 182–83. 19 The Somerset Confession, Article XXIX, in Lumpkin, 211.

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that the church had both local and universal manifestations. Then, in a unique move for a Baptist confessional document, the Orthodox Creed referenced the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed, all of which are important expressions of theological consensus from the patristic age.20 In point of fact, the creed’s authors provided a robust rationale for the inclusion of the ancient creeds: We believe, they may be proved, by most undoubted authority of holy scripture, and are necessary to be understood of all Christians; and to be instructed in the knowledge of them, by the ministers of Christ, according to the analogy of faith, recorded in sacred scriptures, upon which these creeds are grounded, and catechistically opened, and expounded in all Christian families, for the edification of young and old, which might be a means to prevent heresy in doctrine, and practice, these creeds containing all things in a brief manner, that are necessary to be known, fundamentally, in order to our salvation.21 In the long run, the English General Baptists mostly failed to maintain apostolic doctrine; it would be difficult, however, to find a more forceful Baptist statement on the congruity of the ecumenical creeds with Scripture. Later Baptist confessions, albeit frequently affirming doctrines that would square with the creeds from the early church, have not been nearly as explicit as the Orthodox Creed in associating Baptist beliefs with the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian standards. Thus it is all the more intriguing that the “Baptist Catholicity” movement, alluded to in an earlier footnote, has constituted a vanguard of support for a more widespread use of the

20

See The Orthodox Creed, especially Articles XXIX, XXX, XXXIV, and XXXVIII, in Lumpkin, 318–19, 322–23, 326–27. 21 Ibid., 326. At around the same time, a key General Baptist leader published a work to set forth the “primitive” Christian faith with a special focus on soteriology. See Thomas Grantham, Christianismus Primitivus, or, The Ancient Christian Religion, in Its Nature, Certainty, Excellency, and Beauty, (Internal and External) Particularly Considered, Asserted, and Vindicated from the Many Abuses Which Have Invaded that Sacred Profession, by Humane Innovation, or Pretended Revelation (London: Printed for Francis Smith, 1678). The Orthodox Creed and Grantham’s book both suggest that at least some General Baptists accepted some type of doctrinal continuity that needed to be protected in the late seventeenth century.

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ancient creeds in liturgy, catechesis, and even as a base around which any new Baptist confessional consensus should be built.22 Whereas this creedal proclivity might ordinarily be a welcome sign that some former Southern Baptists have come to recognize theological indifferentism as a dangerous trend in the modern world, their laudable interest in professing the faith once delivered is actually a mixed blessing. First, the “Baptist Catholicity” project is part of the promoters’ postmodernist agenda that embraces postliberalism, with its susceptibility to posing a false dichotomy between narrative truth and propositional truth.23 Second, “Baptist Catholics” often fail to discern that there have been expressions of “apostolic” tradition in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant churches that cannot be supported from the writings of the first-century apostles.24 Finally, “Other Baptists”— Freeman’s name for this movement—are both patently ambivalent and unpersuasive about why they remain Baptists.25 Hence the quest for an apostolicity rooted in a continuity of correct doctrine can be a bit tricky. In light of what Harmon, Freeman, and others have been advocating, it is more urgent than ever to distinguish properly between Scripture and tradition. Since they are not always identical in what they teach, the priority of the apostolic witness in Scripture must be in a position to trump tradition when it has deviated from biblical truth. Otherwise, “apostolicity” becomes a piece of wax with no certain meaning.

22

For instance, see Harmon, Towards Baptist Catholicity, 81–87. For a similar enthusiasm for creeds, see Freeman, Contesting Catholicity, 96–121. 23 See Harmon, 39–69; and Freeman, 4–5, 26–34. 24 This is especially evident in Freeman’s chapter “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism,” 339–83, which calls on Baptists to accept all confirmed Christians for membership without requiring “rebaptism.” 25 See Harmon, 193–213. The author, 200, confesses that one of his reservations “about becoming Catholic or Orthodox is my support for the ordination of women to offices of pastoral ministry.”

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Apostolicity and Institutional Continuity In the nineteenth-century American South, an ecclesiological shift took place among some Baptists that would have momentous consequences for how apostolicity was understood. The emergent Landmark movement, launched by James Robinson Graves in 1851, drew some of its ideological substance from the New England Separate Baptist tradition, with its emphasis on local church autonomy and freedom from any sort of ecclesiastical tyranny. The New Hampshire Confession of 1833, which most certainly influenced Vermont native Graves, defined the church exclusively in local terms; unlike many of the earliest Baptist confessions, there was no mention of the church universal.26 Graves’s Landmark agenda, in reality, defined the church solely in local terms—ecclesia referred only to an independent, autonomous congregation. The feisty religious journalist also prompted the Landmarkers to reject the immersion of believers performed in nonBaptist settings (alien immersion), spurn the friendly exchange of pulpits by ministers of different denominations (pulpit affiliation), and fence the Lord’s Supper to the point where Graves ultimately restricted it to members of the local church where it was being celebrated (closed communion).27 Landmarkism gained a sizable number of adherents, especially among Southern Baptists; ripples of a once-vital movement can still be found in pockets of Southern Baptist life and in separate Landmark Baptist denominations. At the heart of Graves’s ecclesiology was a successionist version of Baptist origins that invoked images like a “trail of blood” to contend that Baptists had a continuing history since the first century; that, in fact, the apostolic congregations in the New Testament were actually Baptist churches. Graves declared, moreover, that the 26

The New Hampshire Confession, Article xiii, in Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions, 365. See James A. Patterson, James Robinson Graves: Staking the Boundaries of Baptist Identity (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2012), especially chapters 2 and 3. 27

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blood of those who had been persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church attested to an unbroken chain of Baptist congregations through the ages. The Landmark founder went on to assert that the only true churches were Baptist; hence, the claims to apostolicity made by other churches—or “societies,” as Graves classified them—were quickly dismissed.28 Graves defended Baptist continuity and perpetuity almost entirely in institutional or organizational terms, in part to counter Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican claims for an apostolic succession based on an unbroken line of duly ordained bishops tracing back to the apostolic age. Whereas the claim of the latter groups to apostolicity rested largely on church office, Graves instead centered his argument on a sequence of suitably established congregations that followed the New Testament pattern. The supporters of apostolic succession through bishops could find some connection to continuity of doctrine by reasoning that the creeds and councils of the early church were largely dependent on the labors of those who held episcopal office. For his part, Graves appeared uninterested in doctrinal continuity; what mattered for him was the historical succession of true, apostolic churches.29

28

Ibid., chapter 5, where I discuss all the implications of Graves’s successionism. Some nineteenth-century Baptists in America who were not Landmarkers located an organizational continuity in what they saw as an apostolic pattern of church government. This is evident in the work of William Williams, who was on the original faculty of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. See his Apostolical Church Polity (Philadelphia: Bible and Publication Society [ABPS], published sometime between 1859 and 1877), in which he devotes most of his discussion to church officers. He rejects the episcopacy as an unbiblical notion, affirms plural eldership, and argues that John Calvin “invented” the office of ruling elder. On p. 30, he offers his own take on apostolicity: “Whatever can be CLEARLY shown from Scripture, either by precept or example, to have been instituted by the apostles, and which cannot be shown to have its origin in the temporary and peculiar circumstances of their time, is binding on us and for all time” (emphases original). What he found, of course, in apostolic writing was a Baptist ecclesiology (believers’ baptism, regenerate membership, and local churches that were independent and congregationally ruled). Unlike Graves, Williams did not claim that Baptist churches existed in an unbroken perpetuity since the first century. 29

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When Graves accentuated institutional continuity and identity through his dubious appeals to Baptist successionism, he loosened any meaningful links to doctrinal continuity. As I wrote in my book on Graves, the successionist embrace of a mythical cloud of witnesses or martyrs some created thorny problems: The identity that [Graves] popularized as “Baptist” intermingled Baptists with a potpourri of heretics, ecclesiastical misfits, and valiant reformers who challenged the established church but did not necessarily articulate Baptist doctrines. Moreover, it seems that he did not grasp the reality that dissent in the history of the church was not infrequently linked to deviation from Christian orthodoxy.30 In other words, J. R. Graves sadly misunderstood that he came off as less apostolic when he accepted heretical movements (e.g., the Albigensians) that were not doctrinally apostolic; in addition, his apostolicity suffered when he refused to recognize apostolic orthodoxy that was preserved in traditions that were anything but Baptist. The mooring of apostolicity in institutional or organizational perpetuity is even more challenging than tracking theological continuity. The suprema scriptura principle functions with more complexity because the New Testament is not nearly as well-defined on matters of church polity and structure as it is on doctrinal teaching. Furthermore, there has been a much broader consensus on theological orthodoxy—at least on the Trinity and christology—in Christian history than there has been on church government. Successionist history and institutional continuity are not viable options for contemporary Baptists. Conclusion In light of the widespread theological illiteracy and frequent appeals to experience over doctrine that characterize wide sectors of popular evangelicalism in our day, Baptists 30

Patterson, James Robinson Graves, 121.

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need to pay more attention to whether or not they are “apostolic.” Recent polls, for example, illustrate the stunning propensity that many in our pews have toward heretical beliefs regarding the Trinity, christology, and soteriology.31 Baptists share with other evangelicals a superficial comprehension of Scripture, theology, and church history; this regrettable situation signals dangerous pools of ignorance preventing our churches from presenting clear and convincing answers to the moral, spiritual, and cultural crises of our age. Inasmuch as Baptists historically have been a people of the Book and have committed to a wide range of missionary causes, they have qualified at one level for the moniker “apostolic.” Their links to doctrinal continuity through the centuries are somewhat harder to process because significant numbers of Baptists have not clearly embraced the historic councils and creeds as consistent with original apostolic teachings. Even those who generally affirm the content of the early creeds have not always communicated genuine enthusiasm for using them in meaningful ways. Despite its weaknesses, the “Baptist Catholicity” movement is at least posing a challenge for Baptists to consider just how these statements from the post-apostolic period can help us have a better handle on the church universal. The matter of institutional continuity remains a troublesome point of contention in Baptist life. Although fewer Baptists today affirm the “trail of blood” model for explaining their history, larger numbers still seem to feel that they can closely duplicate the polity and structures of the New Testament churches while simultaneously imbibing 31

Kevin P. Emmert, “New Poll Finds Evangelicals’ Favorite Heresies: Survey Finds Many American Evangelicals Hold Unorthodox View on the Trinity, Salvation, and Other Doctrines,” Christianity Today [online], October 28, 2014, accessed October 28, 2014, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/october-web-only/new-poll-finds-evangelicals-favoriteheresies.html.

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organizational models from contemporary culture. Since the biblical data on institutional church life seem more descriptive than prescriptive, finding this kind of continuity to support claims of apostolicity seems futile. To recapture a vibrant conception of apostolicity, Baptists need to recognize that—in the final analysis—the gospel is at stake. After all, the gospel was initially rooted in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and then embedded in the kerygma his apostles proclaimed and eventually inscripturated in the New Testament documents. Moreover, they followed the last command of Jesus and extended their gospel witness in and beyond the boundaries of the Roman Empire. What this faithful band said, did, and wrote came to define the core meaning of “apostolic.” We as Baptists must employ these first-century criteria to gauge both the legitimacy of later confessional developments as well as the validity of our claims to apostolicity.

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BOOK REVIEWS John D. Currid. Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013), 153 pages. This book is an entrée into an important facet of evangelical biblical theology not usually well known to, or appreciated by, the layperson or even the seminary-trained pastor. I am using “biblical theology” in a technical sense as a sub-discipline somewhat distinct from systematic theology and philosophy. Among other things, biblical theologians tend to give more attention to the ancient world of the human authors and original audiences of the Bible (e.g., the ancient Near East [ANE] for the OT). Since the Bible shares much of this background—language, literary genres, history, culture, geography, even philosophical and theological concepts—interpreting the Bible is enhanced by knowing something of the commonalities between, e.g., Israel and her neighbors. The other side of the coin, however (especially for evangelical scholars like John Currid), is that the Bible also presents a different vision and worldview that is intended to challenge the presumed thinking of those outside the covenant community. Against the Gods emphasizes this flipside: the “polemical theology” (per the subtitle), argues Currid, is a pervasive subtext of the theological trajectory of Old Testament faith. What drives this polemic first and foremost is the OT’s unique theological assumption of monotheism in contrast the ubiquitous polytheism of other ANE peoples. In essence, then, what we have behind many biblical texts is a fight among the gods: Yahweh vs. __________ (fill in the blank with any ANE deity).

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Book Reviews The book is outlined in a straightforward fashion. After an overview of the history of ANE studies (ch. 1), which emphasizes the shared aspects between the OT and other ANE texts (often used by liberal scholars to downplay the significance and uniqueness of the OT), Currid sets out a prolegomena of why polemical theology ought to be given greater consideration (ch. 2). He defines “polemical theology” as “the use by biblical writers of the thought forms and stories that were common in ancient Near Eastern culture, while filling them with radically new meaning. The biblical authors take wellknown expression and motifs from the ancient Near Eastern milieu and apply them to the person and work of Yahweh, and not to the others gods of the ancient world” (25). General examples include expressions like “a strong hand” and “thus says X,” or motifs of the god who rides on the clouds or who can manipulate serpents or who can control weather. The rest of the book walks through biblical texts and corresponding ANE texts, showing how polemical theology is in play: creation in Genesis 1 (ch. 3); the flood in Genesis 6–9 (ch. 4); the Joseph story in Genesis 37–50 (ch. 5); various aspects of the life and ministry of Moses (chs. 6–9); and the exodus (ch. 10). The final chapter (ch. 11) provides an overview of Canaanite literature and some OT parallels where polemical theology provides a logical interpretive lens to understand the biblical texts. This book is helpful for several types of people. First, the person unaware of the background ANE culture and literature will gain from the overview and be presented with a new set of questions to ask in reading the OT. Second, the Christian who finds some parts of the OT strange (like references to other gods), or who has encountered skeptics who say the OT authors simply borrowed from their neighbors, will be given a different angle to consider the data—one that upholds and supports a robust orthodox and

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The Journal of Baptist Studies 7 (2015) evangelical theology. Third, even the scholar or educated layperson who is already aware of some ANE parallels and the concept of theological polemics—such as with the creation and flood stories—will learn of other texts and motifs not as well known (especially the Egyptian and Canaanite texts). Though I recommend the book overall, it has some shortcomings. I appreciate that each of the main chapters ends with a summary of the polemical angle of the topic at hand, but given the point of the book, I would have expected these parts to be longer. Instead, the polemical “pay-off” is at times a bit bland and repetitive (i.e., monotheism vs. polytheism, historically accurate vs. mythological fiction, dignified vs. slavish view of humanity). I also find it troubling that Currid takes some (polemical!) shots at other evangelical OT scholars, as if the latter dismiss the polemical angle of the OT (they do not, in my opinion). One might understand why a conservative like Currid would want to distance himself from someone like Pete Enns (who has recently disavowed “inerrancy” as a useful label) (cf. pp. 23, 34; though note 34 n. 4). It is less understandable that Currid would be so critical of the likes of John Walton, C. John Collins, and Bruce Waltke (23, 31, 34–35; yet, he references Collins favorably on page 44 and Waltke on page 58, which makes his critique a little confusing). Perhaps it would have been more accurate (and charitable) to state that evangelical OT scholars generally recognize some theological polemics in the text, though they disagree on how much or exactly where is taking place. Currid is right that the theology of the OT exhibits a clashing of worldviews, and he provides some starting points to shed light on what was at stake. I think we can take this one step further and apply this to our modern context. The gods of our day may look vastly different than those in ancient Israel’s day, but does not polemical theology in the

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Book Reviews Bible provide us a platform to engage in worldview debates today? In true evangelical fashion, we have biblical grounds to show that the triune God is superior to all would-be contenders to his throne. Kenneth J. Turner Professor of Bible Bryan College

Curtis W. Freeman. Contesting Catholicity: Theology for Other Baptists (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2014), 466 pages. Curtis Freeman claims to be an “Other Baptist.” In his new book, Contesting Catholicity, Freeman seeks to fill out the theological content of this identity marker (which he borrowed from a catch-all category in a statistical report). His claim is that Baptists began as a protest movement within the catholic church but have since devolved into a sect or, even worse, a loose collection of autonomous, mystical selves. Part history, part theology, and part social theory, Contesting Catholicity seeks to point the theological way forward for Other Baptists who wish to retrieve the tradition of Baptist-catholic protest. In a sense, the immediate historical backdrop for Freeman’s work is the late twentieth-century inerrancy controversy within the Southern Baptist Convention. According to Freeman, Other Baptists find themselves caught between the extremes of “lukewarm liberalism” and “hyperfundamentalism” (26). These alienated moderate Baptists are looking for a cure for their “alterity”—their otherness. Freeman believes that this cure is to be found “by participating in the life of the triune God with the communion of saints in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church” (23). Taking his cues from the postliberal theology of George Lindbeck and others—especially as it was refracted through a Baptist lens in the thought of James Wm. McClendon, Jr.—Freeman seeks a

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The Journal of Baptist Studies 7 (2015) “generous orthodoxy,” grounded in the Baptist tradition but characterized by an ecumenical openness to the whole church. Freeman finds inspiration in several twentiethcentury Dixieland (post)liberals such as McClendon, Carlyle Marney and Warren Carr. The life and thought of Marney is given special treatment throughout the book, serving as a kind of literary device that carries the narrative forward. At the heart of Freeman’s theological project is a retrieval of trinitarian theology. Freeman traces the doctrine’s reception in Baptist history from the movement’s seventeenth-century origins to the contemporary context. He suggests that the doctrine has often been treated more as a problem to be solved than a conviction to be lived and experienced. Freeman is skeptical of logical defenses of the Trinity (such as those provided by John Gill and James Boyce) and is critical of contemporary accounts that argue for the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father. He is sympathetic to McClendon’s recasting of the Trinity in narrative categories and is hopeful that the twentieth century “revival” of trinitarian thought can help to recover biblical and patristic themes (though it is ironic that he cites Stephen Holmes in this regard, since Holmes’ work has critiqued the “revival thesis”). In terms of ecclesiology, Freeman envisions a church of interdependent disciples knit together as a community of “priests to each other”—or, as he quotes Marney, “a priest at every elbow” participating in the incarnational ministry of Christ (199). Freeman critiques the individualism inherent in E. Y. Mullins’ notion of “soul competency” and argues instead for a communal rather than an individualistic understanding of the priesthood of believers. Following McClendon, he sees the church as the end-times people of God to whom the commands of Scripture are directly addressed: “this is that”

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Book Reviews and “then is now.” He envisions the church seeking “more light from the Word,” in the context of congregational discernment, even if this quest leads away from accepted literal interpretations of Scripture (e.g., regarding women’s ordination). Freeman argues forcefully for both open communion and open membership, but he seeks to do so without diminishing the significance of either Baptism or the Lord’s Supper. Historically, when Baptists (such as John Bunyan) have sought to defend open membership, they have done so by effectively relativizing the sacraments, subordinating these church ordinances to individual faith. In order to avoid this mistake, Freeman suggests that Baptists must be willing to accept infant baptism as a valid, even if not biblically normative, expression of baptism. Only by accepting infant baptism as valid can Baptists recognize paedobaptist churches as true churches and thus move forward in ecumenical dialogue. In the preface, after owning his own postliberal perspective, Freeman suggests the possibility that “others may imagine what it might look like to hew a postconservative course” of Baptist catholicity, more in line with the methodological approach of Kevin Vanhoozer and others (xi). The evaluation that follows takes its starting point from this distinction. Many evangelical Baptists may sympathize with Freeman’s call for retrieving the catholic tradition and for moving beyond modernistic epistemological assumptions, but they may also balk at some of his biblical and theological conclusions. Three points serve to highlight both the similarities and the differences between these two trajectories. First, in terms of Scripture, evangelical Baptists can appreciate Freeman’s desire to move beyond the modernistic alternatives of “uncritical literalism” and “historical criticism” (275). Hermeneutical factors such as biblical genres, the Christological shape of the canon, and the history of interpretation are not lost on evangelical Baptist

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The Journal of Baptist Studies 7 (2015) theologians and exegetes. Evangelical Baptists can also appreciate Freeman’s emphasis on reading in communion with other believers (275), and his critique of individualistic interpretations of the Baptist vision. Surely Freeman is correct to note that the priesthood of believers has more to do with communal responsibility than it does with untethered individual expression. Evangelical Baptists will be happy to seek “more light from the Word,” provided that such a quest does not lead away from the plain meaning of Scripture. The Reformation emphasis on the perspicuity of Scripture is crucial in this regard. Therefore, evangelical Baptists will be wary of readings that seem to cut against the grain of the biblical witness, such as the imaginative readings Freeman cites in defense of women’s ordination (299). Second, in terms of tradition, evangelical Baptists can also appreciate Freeman’s call for a retrieval of trinitarian orthodoxy and the appropriation of the ecumenical creeds. Freeman helpfully points to the derivative authority of the ancient creeds: they do possess a kind of authority but only insofar as they faithfully render the biblical narrative. He is also correct to point Baptists to the integral place of the Trinity for Christian faith and spirituality. Still, evangelical Baptists may in fact be better positioned to affirm the authoritative use of these confessional standards than their moderate Baptist counterparts. Freeman is concerned that Baptist commitment to the creeds be non-coercive; creeds should not be “employed to bind the conscience” (138). Evangelical Baptists agree, if the question is one of civil religious liberty. But Freeman seems suspicious of any delimiting use of creeds and confessions even at the ecclesiastical level. He warns of the “coercive and authoritarian practices of modern fundamentalism,” which seeks to bind consciences “by forced subscription to creeds” (103). But evangelical Baptists can more readily

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Book Reviews affirm the ecclesiastically binding use of creeds and confessions even as they join arms with all Baptists in defense of religious liberty. Coercion is inconsistent with any expression of the Baptist vision, but confessional standards that delimit fellowship and cooperation have been common throughout Baptist history. Finally, in terms of the church, evangelical Baptists can appreciate Freeman’s desire to move beyond sectarianism towards an openness to the whole church of Jesus Christ. Evangelicals need not be allergic to ecumenicity, but their principles for cooperation will be decidedly evangelical in orientation, that is, oriented around the gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. Both moderates and evangelicals can be committed to a contesting catholicity, but the lines of contestation may be drawn a bit differently by each group. Neither must evangelical Baptists resist any notion of sacramentalism. Some evangelical Baptists who are more Reformed in their theological bearings should have no problem affirming baptism and the Lord’s Supper as more than empty symbols, but instead as signs and seals of the covenant of grace. But Baptists of all stripes should be open to affirming the presence of the Risen Christ with his people and the spiritual nourishment they gain from participating in these sacred rites. More controversial from an evangelical point of view is Freeman’s plea for both open communion and open membership. While the former is widely practiced among evangelical Baptists, a strong case can be made that the “close communion” position, which makes immersion as a believer a prerequisite to the Lord’s Table, better preserves the truly catholic position that baptism precedes the Lord’s Supper. Even more problematic is Freeman’s affirmation of open membership and the validity (but non-normativity) of infant baptism. Freeman’s position is to be commended for seeking to preserve the necessity of baptism for church

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The Journal of Baptist Studies 7 (2015) membership (another catholic principle) but he does so by essentially “giving away the farm,” so to speak. Compromising on credobaptism as a requirement for membership will be too high a cost for most evangelical Baptists to bear. In any event, there may be other ways in which evangelical Baptists can show solidarity with Christians from other traditions without surrendering their convictions on baptism (such as joint worship services, pulpit exchanges, ministerial prayer groups, ecumenical dialogue, public prayers for other churches, and so forth). Whether or not a post-conservative expression of Baptist Catholicity will develop alongside the post-liberal version proposed by Freeman and others remains to be seen. Perhaps a more Vanhoozerian, canonical-linguistic approach will arise to match the more Linbeckian, cultural-lingustic approach that Freeman sketches in Contesting Catholicity. But if such a project is to get off the ground, as it were, it will have to grapple seriously with Freeman’s sophisticated proposal in this book. R. Lucas Stamps Assistant Professor of Christian Studies California Baptist University Timothy George, Theology of the Reformers, rev. ed. (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2013), 432 pages. Timothy George’s Theology of the Reformers has been an excellent introduction to Reformation theology since first published in 1988, offering more than can be found in your typical church history textbook but more accessible than a work focusing on a particular figure’s theology. The current dean of Beeson Divinity School has updated his well-known work in a revised edition, which includes minor changes in the text, an updated bibliography, and an additional chapter on William Tyndale. The first two

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Book Reviews chapters act as an introduction to reading church history, reading about the Reformation, and the historical and theological context preceding the Reformation. The first chapter (Introduction) begins by acquainting readers with Reformation historiography, giving instruction on reading historical works in general and Reformation history in particular (11–16). George’s focus of addressing the theology of the Reformers is made clear, as opposed to addressing the Reformation in all its facets: social, political, etc. This is coupled with a convincing rationale as to why Reformation theology was especially important: “the Reformation was essentially a religious event; its deepest concerns, theological” (16). In the process of sharing his principles for selecting the reformers to be addressed in the book, George helpfully exposes novices to other significant figures of the Reformation era, such as Philip Melanchthon, Martin Bucer, Balthasar Hubmaier, and Thomas Cranmer. Even those outside of Protestantism (e.g. Ignatius Loyola and Michael Servetus) are mentioned. The second chapter (The Thirst for God: Theology and Spiritual Life in the Late Middle Ages) sets up the historical context in the late Middle Ages from which the Protestant Reformation would sprout by surveying various beliefs, practices, figures, and movements leading up the Protestant Reformation. Though some social and political aspects of that period are noted, they are effectively connected to the spiritual concerns of the time. For example, the connections made between disease, death, human guilt, and medieval penitential activism are very enlightening (22–26). Various reforming movements within the Roman Catholic Church are also discussed. Readers coming from a Protestant tradition will probably recognize figures such as John Wyclif and John Hus, but conciliarism, for example, might be unknown to many readers. The chapter ends with

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The Journal of Baptist Studies 7 (2015) an overview of three theological trends leading up the Reformation: scholasticism, mysticism, and humanism. Chapters three through seven focus on Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, Menno Simons, and William Tyndale. A review of these chapters will consist of general characteristics primarily coupled with specific details from the chapter on Tyndale. Each chapter with a biographical sketch and some historical context, which help readers see how context can shape theology and that the reformers were human. George also tackles particular ways in which these reformers have been misunderstood or misinterpreted. For example, the author describes how Calvin has been honored or attacked in the present and the past, contrasting “Calvinphobia” to “Calvinolatry.” George’s mediating position is clearly stated, “We do no service to the truth by depicting Calvin as either angelically good or diabolically evil” (175). Yet, while he avoids hagiography, the author plainly sees great benefit in the work that these men did. Some of the misunderstandings result from gaps in knowledge. Tyndale’s lasting contribution to an English translation of the Bible is generally acknowledged, but what is not evident, and what George presents, is Tyndale’s theological place and contribution in the English Reformation. Rather than being reduced to a Bible translator, Tyndale is shown to offer a broader theological contribution. His written contributions went beyond Bible translation, including polemical works and prologues. Not only does George enumerate and describe eighteen of Tyndale’s works in chronological order (344–5), he regularly cites these works, helping readers connect to the reformer. The author’s regular interaction with primary and secondary sources throughout the book also offers readers

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Book Reviews an avenue for further reading and study, useful for self-learners and students in the classroom. George approaches his subject’s theology topically. Tyndale’s theology is divided into four sections: “The Medicine of Scripture” (doctrine of Scripture), “Sin and Salvation,” “Law and Love” (compared to Luther’s view on faith and works), and “The Little Flock” (ecclesiology). George highlights Tyndale’s commitment to the Reformation principle of sola fide, his great concern for how the Christian’s love should be reflected in deeds (therefore, not a return to legalism), and his evangelistic intents. The inclusion of Tyndale’s ecclesiology is excellent. Though Tyndale was an ordained priest, his transient latter years might lead some to assume he did not have much to say on ecclesiology. Throughout the chapter, Tyndale is clearly shown to be within the mainstream of Reformation thought not a mere copy or amalgam of the other reformers. George’s original edition was already an excellent introduction to general Reformation theology and to the particular views of Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and Simons. With the addition of a chapter on Tyndale, thus including the English Reformation with the other movements, the revised edition of Theology of the Reformers is a more well rounded introduction to Protestant Reformation theology. It also serves as an excellent resource for further studies on the topic, because it goes into much more depth than the typical Church history textbook, acclimates novices to the Reformation by giving the historical context, and contains excellent bibliographies. It will mainly appeal to Protestants who trace the roots of their traditions to the Reformation era. This new edition might be especially appealing to Baptists, for example, who see their tradition more closely connected to the Reformation movements in England than those on the continent.

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The Journal of Baptist Studies 7 (2015) Finally, this book’s worth can also be appreciated outside the classroom, because its theological focus makes the volume especially relevant for churches today. John Gill Assistant Professor of Christian Studies California Baptist University Christopher M. Hays and Christopher B. Ansberry, eds., Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 242 pages. In the edited collection of essays that make up Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism, Christopher Hays and Christopher Ansberry hope to “. . . illustrate that historical criticism need not imperil any of the fundamental dogmatic tenets of Christianity” (5), and to “. . . call evangelical interpreters of the Bible to be both critical and evangelical” (17). In other words, they hope that this book will, on the one hand, demonstrate that historical critical conclusions need not lead to a denial of evangelical Christianity, and, on the other hand, prompt evangelical scholars to more openly and frequently engage in critical scholarship. The book consists of seven essays, each of which asks whether or not, and how, evangelical faith can be coupled with some of the most controversial historical critical conclusions. The approach of most of the essays is to hypothetically concede these historical critical conclusions (e.g. there is no historical Adam) and then ask whether or not evangelical faith is affected in any way (e.g. regarding the doctrine original sin). Hays and Stephen Lane Herring tackle hamartiology and historical Adam in chapter two, while Ansberry deals with the historicity of the exodus in chapter three. Ansberry co-authors chapter four with Jerry Hwang, and there they attempt to work out how evangelicals can and should view Deuteronomy in light of the dominant historical critical approach to the

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Book Reviews book. Amber Warhurst, Seth B. Tarrer, and Hays argue for a nuanced view of prophecy, including an admission of vaticinium ex eventu, in chapter five, and Ansberry, Casey A. Strine, Edward W. Klink III and David Lincicum make the case that pseudipigraphy does not warrant a rejection of the Bible as authoritative for evangelicals in chapter six. Michael J. Daling and Hays ask in chapter seven what evangelicals must affirm about the historical Jesus in order to retain their faith, and Aaron J. Kuecker and Kelly D. Liebengood finish the collection by comparing the Paul of Acts and the Paul of the epistles in chapter eight. Ansberry and Hays complete the volume with chapter nine, an essay on the relationship between faith and criticism. Any evangelical reader of this book can, I think, sympathize with Hays and Ansberry’s motivation. Too many students, for example, when confronted by a college professor about some historical critical claims, doubt and/or leave the faith altogether because they have never grappled with the Bible’s historical character. For this reason it is commendable that the editors and the contributors call for evangelicals to more deeply and frequently engage with modern critical biblical scholarship. And yet, what I mean by “engage” is not what the editors seem to mean. For Hays, Ansberry, et al., “engage” seems to mean that they want to find out how much of conservative biblical scholarship they can (theoretically) give up while still being considered evangelical and/or Christian. This begs the question of whether or not historical critical conclusions and the methods used to obtain those conclusions are in and of themselves valid. A book review ought to critique the book that was written and not one the reviewer feels like should have been written, but in this case I cannot help but ask why the historical critical cart is put before the theological and philosophical horse. If, as Hays and Ansberry readily admit, historical

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The Journal of Baptist Studies 7 (2015) criticism is not theologically or philosophically neutral, then why is the best approach to resolving the tension between evangelical faith and historical criticism a capitulation to an approach to Scripture that has been proven to be philosophically and theologically suspect? As Craig Bartholomew has argued, in an essay titled “Philosophy, Theology and the Crisis of Biblical Interpretation,” biblical interpretation has never been free of philosophical foundations, and this is especially true of the modernity-driven project of historical criticism. If, upon further analysis, the Enlightenment project and modernity are deemed philosophically and theologically suspect, why should evangelicals capitulate to historical critical conclusions? Further, why should evangelicals capitulate, even theoretically, to historical critical conclusions that have been brought into serious suspicion by evangelical scholars (e.g. George Knight’s defense of Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles in his NIGTC commentary)? This seems to me the wrong way to go about this project, however admirable the motivations for such a project may be. Hays and Ansberry, and the contributors, should be commended for drawing a line at least some of the time in their essays. For instance, there is a clear line drawn by the authors with respect to having a supernatural worldview (i.e. allowance for miracles) and to the historical fact of Jesus’ physical resurrection. And the chapter on Paul by Kuecker and Liebengood is in my mind the best in the book. It demonstrates the tension between historical critical conclusions and evangelical faith, but then goes on to critique both the method of historical criticism with respect to Paul’s portrait across the canon as well as a naïve fundamentalism that does not take into account nuances brought about by genre, audience, date of composition, and the like. This chapter to me exemplifies what this conversation should have looked like for each essay. But in many cases the way the

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Book Reviews question is framed—can evangelicals believe this historical critical conclusion and still be an evangelical or a Christian?—is the wrong way to go about what the editors and many of the authors are trying to accomplish. One final comment is in order. The editors and a few of the authors reference the ecumenical creeds, and particularly the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds, as reference points for what it minimally means to be a Christian. There are two problems with this approach, however. First, it assumes that nothing of binding ecumenical import has been said since the fourth and fifth centuries, and this is not the case. For Protestants, the Reformation’s solas are tantamount to a creed, and both Orthodox and Catholic councils have made binding statements since then. It does not do justice to the nature of the Christian faith or the diversity of its traditions to stop at Nicaea. The second issue regards the nature of the book’s audience and authors—evangelicals. While Nicaea may be used as a baseline for what it means to be a Christian, I do not see how it can function as a distinguishing mark for what makes someone an evangelical. More criteria are needed to make that determination than the ecumenical creeds. And yet the book is written by and for evangelicals particularly. To ask, then, “can one believe this historical critical conclusion and still be a Christian?” skips over the book’s intended audience and does little to achieve the book’s goals. In the end, then, while I am appreciative of the editors’ and authors’ motivation, their commitment to Nicene Christianity, and their affirmation of core tenets of the faith (e.g. Jesus’ physical resurrection from the dead), and while I agree with them that evangelicals ought to engage historical critical scholarship more frequently and deeply, I do not see how the editors and authors have asked the right questions, and therefore also

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The Journal of Baptist Studies 7 (2015) do not see how they have provided what many evangelicals would consider satisfying answers. Matthew Y. Emerson Assistant Professor of Christian Studies California Baptist University Stephen R. Holmes. The Quest for the Trinity: The Doctrine of God in Scripture, History and Modernity (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), xx + 231 pages. A part of an ever-growing body of recent literature on the most important doctrine of the Christian Faith, that is, that the true and living God is a triune Being, this comprehensive study by Stephen Holmes, senior lecturer in theology at the University of St. Andrews, is a solid critique of the direction of much of this literature. As Holmes notes, many theologians in the twentieth century, especially in the latter half, believed that the doctrine of the Trinity had been neglected, even lost, and they sought to recover it. As Holmes adeptly shows, though, this recovery by the likes of Karl Barth, Karl Rahner, and John Zizioulas has given rise to a perspective on the Trinity quite at odds with what had prevailed in Christian thinking and devotion from the patristic era to the end of the eighteenth century. The reason for this Holmes deftly shows to have been the fact that twentieth-century thinkers regarded the patristic understanding of the Trinity, which Christian tradition had assumed to be correct down to the rise of biblical criticism in the eighteenth century, as deeply problematic. The Fathersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; insistence on the simplicity and ineffability of the divine being, the fact that the three divine hypostases are distinguished by the eternal relations of generation and procession, and that the entirety of Scripture

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Book Reviews bears witness to the Triune God have basically been ignored by modern writers. And the result, in Holmes’ opinion, can hardly be described as a “Trinitarian revival.” Holmes first looks at the biblical witness to the Trinity (33–55) and rightly stresses that the Patristic development of the doctrine of the Trinity is “largely a history of biblical exegesis” (33). Some of their exegesis seems odd to early twenty-first-century readers, but Holmes helps us make sense of their hermeneutics and also shows why it can be regarded as viable. He then turns to the actual development of the patristic understanding of the Trinity, which rightly occupies a significant amount of his book (56–143). Critical to his argument here is his cogent demonstration that there is a unified patristic witness about the Trinity, contra the common, but very wrong, assumption that the Greek Fathers, personified in the Cappadocians, and the Latin Fathers, personified in Augustine, took two very different and conflicting pathways of thought about God. Chapter 7 looks at the medieval doctrine of the Trinity and the debate over the filioque (147–164), where Holmes argues that neither position in the latter should be regarded as doing “violence to the received orthodox and catholic tradition” (164). While this reviewer personally sees the filioque as a correct development, I think Holmes is right in his emphasis here. Chapter 8 (165–181) tracks the story from the Reformation to the close of the eighteenth century. The period after the Reformation is often ignored in the history of Trinitarianism, and Holmes’ careful, though succinct, attention to this era is very welcome. The final chapter (182–200) looks at Trinitarian thought in the last two hundred years—the speculative nature of much of it in the nineteenth century after G.W.F. Hegel and F.D.E. Schleiermacher and then the supposed recovery in the twentieth century.

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The Journal of Baptist Studies 7 (2015) Has Holmes proven his case? This reviewer thinks so: twentieth-century theologians have clearly regarded the patristic synthesis as deeply problematic and taken thinking about the Trinity in very different directions from the received tradition. If so, what is needed then is a true ressourcement, in which the Fathers’ thinking on the Trinity is carefully delineated and its significance for the present day cogently argued. Michael A.G. Haykin Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality Director, The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Fred Sanders. Wesley on the Christian Life: The Heart Renewed in Love. Theologians on the Christian Life (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013), 272 pages. When I was asked to write a review of Fred Sanders’ most recent work, I gladly accepted. I knew I could expect a comfortable, humorous, historically-accurate read. He did not disappoint. Sanders, Associate Professor of Theology at Biola University’s Torrey Honors Institute, is a popular blogger and speaker on, among other things, the art of writing well. But, as all good writers know, it is one thing to write about good writing, another entirely to do it. Sanders does it. His winsome portrait of Wesley is the latest in a series of titles from Crossway on influential theologians’ thoughts on the Christian life. Other theologians covered in this series include Warfield, Schaeffer, and Bonhoeffer. What becomes obvious from the start is that Sanders is a Wesleyan among Wesleyans. Saved in a Methodist church, educated at a Methodist seminary, and a member of the Wesleyan Theological Society, Sanders is a bona fide constituent of the “Wesleyverse” (13). But, as influenced as he is by Wesley, he laments that a “generation has arisen that does not know Wesley” (13). And this is one of his purposes for writing

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Book Reviews the book—he wants Wesley’s doctrine of grace to “catalyze the same kind of awakening [among today’s Christians] as when [he] first preached it” (15). Sanders’ other purpose for writing is to provide a Wesleyan approach to Christian living. Given this purpose, the reader will not find a comprehensive discussion on an unaccommodated Wesley, but instead be introduced to a “warmhearted evangelical protestant” (18). Sanders begins by detailing Wesley’s life and character, including his conversion at Aldersgate, and his focus on the heart. The core of the book takes up the major issues in Wesley’s theology—his love of 1 John, the role of justification by faith as the basis of sanctification, his doctrine of grace, and perfectionism. He then closes by exploring the Christian’s need to be aware of how God is working among all his people and by examining how Wesley anchors his spirituality in the doctrine of the Trinity. Throughout his book, Sanders strikes an ecumenical tone. From his desire to have Reformed readers edified by Wesley’s teachings to his accenting of Wesley’s “catholic spirit” (219), he champions a united impulse despite differences in traditions: “In a divided Christendom, living a fully and universally Christian experience will mean being open to the best in many sub-traditions, even while being persuaded of the rightness of one’s own particular church” (220). This impulse is perhaps best seen in what is one of the true strengths of his work, his shedding of Wesley’s moniker as an “Arminian Theologian.” “Wesley was,” in the words of Sanders, a “non-Calvinist . . . [b]ut he was not quite an anti-Calvinist” (236). Translated: Wesley emphasized those doctrines that Calvinists and Arminians held in common and in contrast to Roman Catholics. So, though “Calvinists [today] routinely think of Calvinism as the opposite of Arminianism . . . [t]hey would be on better historical ground if they defined it as the opposite of Roman

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The Journal of Baptist Studies 7 (2015) Catholicism” (237). If there is a weakness, though, it is also here. Sanders’s book, at times, feels more like a defense of Wesley rather than an unapologetic discussion of how contemporary Christians can apply Wesley’s thoughts on spirituality. Few theologians have had the impact of Wesley and his brother, Charles, on the Christian faith, even fewer the kind of impact that leads to greater Christ-likeness in the believer. Sanders does a remarkable job of singing this tune with this well-written score. Both Arminians and Calvinists, Methodists and Baptists, as well as those who just appreciate good writing will find much to gain from Sanders’s portrayal of Wesley’s pursuit of holiness. Chris Bosson Adjunct Professor Liberty University

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