"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Do You Know What In the Sam Hill a Baptist Is?

There is a story in Edwin Mitchell’s 1946 Encyclopedia of American Politics that a man named Colonel Samuel Hill of Guilford, Connecticut, would repeatedly run for political office in the early 1800's -- but always without success. Soon, the popular phrase “to run like Sam Hill," or "what in the Sam Hill are you doing?" entered into the American lexicon. I don't know if the story is apocryphal or not, but I when I feel a tad frustrated I find myself thinking, 'What in the Sam Hill is going on?'

I have been astounded at claims of a few in the comment sections of this blog that certain Southern Baptists are not true Baptists, possibly even not Christian. Some have even alleged that any attempt to dialogue and fellowship with other Baptists is impossible because we don't even believe the same gospel. One commentor said that she could not attend any convocation of Baptists, regardless of the stated purpose, because that assembly would attempt to define "what it means to be a Baptist."

In spite of the fact that the only people I see attempting to narrowly define what it means to be a 'genuine' Baptist are a handful of people within the Southern Baptist Convention in cooperation with Independent Baptist leaders who have recently become Baptist because 'the SBC has became more like us, than we like them," (Dr. Falwell's own words), I believe it is when groups begin to attempt to 'define' more narrowly what a 'genuine' Baptist is that we all get into trouble. The definition of what it means to be Baptist should be simple, broad and Biblical. It should encompass New Testament Christianity and nothing more, nothing less.

The very essence of being Baptist is that you cannot be defined nor limited in a more narrow fashion than the Scripture -- for the Spirit of truth is our guide and the Word of truth is our boundary.

My friend Dr. Tom Nettles has given perhaps the best definition of what it means to be Baptist of anyone I have read. You may find it in his classic "By His Grace and For His Glory."

Tom says a Baptist is . . .

Orthodox -- This means we believe in the Trinity as revealed in Scripture and articulated in the writings and councils of the church fathers. This separates Baptists from the cults and other world religions who renounce Christ as the second person of the Trinity and the Savior of mankind in the sense that 'God saves sinners.'

Evangelical -- This means we believe a sinner is made right with God by God's grace. We realize personally that grace through our faith in Jesus Christ's person and work. 'Evangelicalism' focuses our attention on the 'good news.' God is the author and creator of the news; evangelists are the proclaimers of it; converts are believers in it. This 'evangelicalism' separates us from the Roman Catholics of the Middle Ages. Though there may be many modern Roman Catholics who are evangelical, this would be in spite of their church's 'offical' doctrine. The Evangelical/Catholics Together effort of the last decade may very well be a reflection that many in Catholocism are returning to their historic (2nd, 3rd, and 4th century) 'evangelical' roots and abandoning the dark and brooding Roman Catholic heresies of the Middle Ages, but I do not know enough about this to offer an opinion. I do believe we should always be open to any entity or person who moves toward evangelicalism, regardless of their previous history. However, until you are evangelical you could not be considered a true Baptist.

Separatistic -- This third and final word that describes Baptists means we believe in the separation of church and state. We do not baptize infants and bestow upon them a 'Christian' name and citizenship at baptism. We hold to a 'believers' church -- one separated from the world and 'the government' via faith in Christ. The Baptist church is historically a regenerate church. This separates us from the German Lutherans, the English Anglicans, the Scottish Presbyterians and any other church/state evangelical denominations who have taken center stage throughout history. We call these folks from other denominations 'brothers and sisters in Christ,' but we would not call them Baptists.

THAT to me is the best short definition of what it means to be a Baptist. I believe we should vigorously challenge anyone who tries to narrow the definition any further. In fact, I believe we should blush if we question either the genuiness of the Christianity or the Baptist convictions of anyone who affirms the above - regardless of political, social, cultural and philosophical differences between us.

In His Grace,

Wade

135 comments:

Kaylor said...

Amen! This post reminds me why I’m proud to be a Baptist.

Jack Maddox said...

Wade

Why did you choose to use Dr. Falwell as a negative example on the very day of his memorial service?

Jack

Sharon said...

doesn't a statement that Mormons are Christians display a lack of belief in the Orthodox councils and their interpretation of the bible? I think yes. Also doan't a gathering of baptist such as the meeting in January logically make a statement to all who a Baptist is? yes i think it does. So I do not see your point.

Wade Burleson said...

Jack,

It saddens me that you read negativity in things I write. I am simply stating fact. Dr. Falwell became Southern Baptist not because his independent, fundamental Baptist church changed, but he believed the SBC changed to become like his independent, fundamental Baptist church. That's a statement of fact without anything negative attached.

Wade Burleson said...

Sharon,

A Mormon is not a Baptist - period.

I do not believe that a Mormon is evangelical, but I scratch my head at why we are talking about Mormons when the discussion is about what it means to be a Baptists. If Mormons were invited to the Baptist convocation I would not even think twice about attending. They are not invited and rightfully so.

I'm sorry you don't see my point, but I will continue to try my best to help you. Unfortunately, I am out of town involved in ministry today and will be unable to respond to any further questions.

Sharon said...

obnviously i am bringing up mormons becasue this post is a reaction to me and others who have concerns about Carter. You stated in another post that I influenced you to do this thread. So naturally i put the two together. it was not that hard. So i guess i want to say that I accept most of what you say a Baptist is although I would add more. But the point many are making (which caused this thread) is that Carter does not even meet what you have said a Baptist is. Oh well i guess the meeting really is not about what a Baptist is. . . right? BTW I will not be posting again in this thread or maybe not again on this site. i think i have made my point. i am sounding, even to myself, like a broken record.

Bill Scott said...

Wade,
Your discussion is timely indeed. I spoke with a fellow this evening that needed a synopsis of what it means to be a Baptist. I sure wish I had read this post before I had that encounter.

The great apologist Popeye said it best, "I yam what I yam." I yam a Baptist!

Jack Maddox said...

Wade

After re reading the post I apologize. I was hasty to comment and sincerely "Take it back" You only posted what Dr. Falwall had said and it was not in a negative light. Sorry Bro.!

Jack

Robert said...

Dear Pastor Burleson,

I, too, greatly appreciate Dr. Tom Nettles! Forever will I be grateful for his writings, especially his "Baptists and the Bible," co-authored with Dr. L. Russ Bush. Having had the opportunity to sit under his teaching has been a tremendous blessing in my life.

In his "The Baptists: Key People Involved in Forming a Baptist Identity" (published by Christian Focus Publishers in 2005), Dr. Nettles adds a fourth Baptist distinctive to those you list here. The page citations to follow are from this particular book.

Dr. Nettles provides four categories in his framework to establish a definition of Baptist identity: "orthodoxy, evangelicalism, separate-ness (that is, a theologically integrated ecclesiology), and conscientious confessionality" (36). One must be orthodox in order to be a Baptist, and Dr. Nettles defines orthodoxy as including "knowledge of God as the triune God and knowledge of Christ as Son of God and Son of Man" (37). The second category is evangelical, which Dr. Nettles says involves "the doctrine of justification by faith, the necessity of the work of Christ, and the necessity of the work of the Spirit" (40). The third category is separate-ness, which Dr. Nettles defines as "a view of the church that is developed in full awareness of its necessary connection with a network of other biblical truths" (44). The fourth and final category is conscientious confessionality, which is a church’s making "plain to the membership and to the world the truths that are believed by the church as a whole" (46). This confessionality is both personal and corporate.

I am writing all of this because I didn't want your readers to miss the entirety of Dr. Nettles's definition of what it is to be a Baptist.

One more thing. Dr. Nettles would certainly place anyone outside the definition of what it means to be a Baptist who does not believe, as the Baptist Faith and Message (our confession of faith--remember Dr. Nettles's fourth category!) puts it, "There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord."

I hope you have a great night!

In Christ,
Robbie Sagers

Anonymous said...

Robbie,

You seem to equate being Baptist with being "Southern" Baptist. Even if Nettles has modified his qualifications for being a Baptist to include the concept of confessionality, this does not post ipso facto mean the confesssion must be the BFM.

Anonymous Seminary Student

Bart Barber said...

Anonymous,

You misread Robbie Sagers. His only specific reference to the BF&M was to quote it in affirming the exclusivity of Christ. Although he borrowed the specific wording from the BF&M, certainly this cherished and unquestionably-first-tier doctrine is not an innovation of the year 2000.

Bart Barber said...

Robbie,

Thanks so much for your comment. The "holy grail" for serious scholars of Baptist History & Theology like Dr. Nettles is to find a succinct, memorable framework through which one can present the lengthy list of things that define Baptist belief. One clusters the items into fitting categorizations, hoping to strike just the right balance between accuracy and accessibility.

Dr. Nettles's four-point framework is a helpful one, but it is only one attempt among a dozen or more serious and scholarly attempts. For those willing to read a little more widely, two recent presentations on this topic include R. Stanton Norman, The Baptist Way, and John S. Hammett, Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches. There are others, as well.

Dr. Nettles has every reason to be proud of his framework as a presentation tool. I doubt that even he himself would assert his synopsis as the litmust test and line of demarcation between good, everyone-does-and-believes-whatever-strikes-him-today Baptists on the one hand and evil, narrowing, SINISTER FUNDAMENTALIST Baptists on the other hand.

Your comment has clearly shown that Dr. Nettles packed quite a bit of detail into his framework.

Bob Cleveland said...

Wade:

This really points out the importance of the BF&M and the necessity of not going beyond it. It also emphasizes the paradox of requiring people to sign it, which negates the very preamble which sets forth its intent.

Belief Matters said...
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Belief Matters said...
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irreverend fox said...

Wade...I would add that Baptists believe in Believers Baptism...a distinction that goes back to our Anabaptist roots...

CHRIS HILLIARD said...

Who gets to decide what's "Baptist"? Isn't the ultimate goal what's "Biblical"?

If we aren't careful we find ourselves defending a label more than sound doctrine.

GuyMuse said...

My vote goes for what you write about being a Baptist should encompass New Testament Christianity and nothing more, nothing less.

When one begins to broaden the horizon to bring in Baptists from around the world, one sees clearly that NT Christianity is truly the ONLY measuring stick that we can use. While Baptist scholars, like Nettles, are helpful, they will always fall short in one point or another. Why can't we just stick to the plain old NT nothing more, nothing less?

Rick in Thailand said...

A key point as to why I am Baptist is the "priesthood of the believer". I believe you refer to this in your message but it is so important, not on these days, but throughout Baptist history. It establishes the autonomy of the local church and is so critical today as always that we all acknowledge this "fundamental" characteristic of who we all are.

John Moeller said...

I’ve read the comments for several days and would like to ask the following;

Acts 6:31 "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household."

Romans 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

This is what the Bible says. So even if you go to a Mormon church and profess Romans 10:9, you may have a warped theology or doctrine according to a Baptist, but this person will end up in the same heaven that I will…..

Also, Jimmy Carter is southern Baptist. Whether you like his political and social views or not. You have successfully slammed one of your own. That’s shameful. I look at his fruit since leaving office. He loves God and other people. Isn’t that what Jesus said to do.

I am sure President Carter has asked himself the same question I just posed to you. Like it or not, when you boil it down, there will be Mormons in heaven. I am not saying all of them, but if anyone professes Romans 10:9, they are saved.

I find that every time I try to throw theology at something, I feel like a Pharisee. Jesus said to love people, maybe we need more of that than slinging theology and doctrine at everyone.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Wade, when I saw the title of your post, it brought back memories. It is interesting to read of the origin of an expression I once commonly heard, but seems to have not passed on to younger generations. In our area, at least, its use was somewhat of a polite substitute for what in stronger language would have been considered cursing.

Concerning the NewBaptCov gathering, I think there is a subtle difference between what I have tried to point out, and another commenter's idea that this assembly would attempt to define what it means to be a Baptist. I don't think there is any evidence that they are explicitly defining Baptist identity. I do think it is implicit in the nature of the gathering -- inviting self-identified Baptists while excluding other Christians and non-Christians. There seems to be an indication that our coming together as Baptists to work on social issues is more important that our differences as Baptists (and that all who call themselves Baptists truly are).

I am glad that Robbie Sagers posted concerning Tom Nettles' book Baptists: Key People Involved in Forming a Baptist Identity (Volume One: Beginnings in Britain). I mentioned that book last night on the "Has the Gospel's Power Been Lost in the SBC?" comment thread, hoping you would notice it before you made this post. I am curious, since you said that you "would challenge anyone who tries to narrow the definition any further", how you feel about Tom's narrowing of his own definition?

The issue of "Baptist identity" is a very intriguing one, and one fraught with problems -- "when groups attempt to 'define' what a 'genuine' Baptist is that we get into trouble." I am suggesting that the parameters of the NewBaptCov defines a Baptist as any group that identifies itself as Baptist (and by that do "get into trouble").

Bart mentions Stan Norman's The Baptist Way. Two other books I would recommend on the topic are Norman's More than just a name and Walter Shurden's The Baptist Identity. These books are at opposite ends of the spectrum, both well researched and well written. I have reviewed both of these. I agree with Norman's approach, and many but not all of his conclusions. I agree with some of Shurden's conclusion, but not his approach. Anyone interested in this subject should not miss those two books.

Anonymous said...

Here is simply the question.

"Can a Baptist who believes Mormons go to heaven be an orthodox Christian?"

answer that simple question and we all know where the other stands.

In Christ,
John B.

R. L. Vaughn said...

John Moeller, you wrote, "Jimmy Carter is southern Baptist."

I was under the impression that he is not. I went on the sbc.net web site, and Maranatha Baptist Church of Plains, Georgia (where former President Carter is a member) DOES come up under the church search.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

John Moeller,

That depends on how you define "Lord" in your confession. A Mormons definition of "Lord" is unbiblical.

John B.

Bryan Riley said...

John B., there is no simplicity in that question. Turn the question around...Can a Mormon who believes Southern Baptists are going to heaven be an Orthodox Christian? Neither question makes a bit of sense, because being Mormon or being Baptist or being Orthodox has nothing to do with one's relationship with the Father through the work of Jesus Christ at the cross.

I don't believe I have a clue who is going to heaven apart from the Spirit of God who lives in me and who might give me the gift of discernment from time to time, but even then, I trust God alone with the knowledge of who is or isn't "in." If you asked the question "do you believe that someone who proclaims that Jesus is not God, but simply a god and a created being, is going to heaven," then that might be a better question because it gets at the question of who Jesus is in the mind and heart of the individual. Even then I think someone could answer that question "I don't know" and still have saving faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. If they answered it "yes," then one could begin to disciple that person who doesn't know Jesus to understand who Jesus really is.

Bryan Riley said...

I wonder if the demons would look at someone who says, "In the name of the Baptist Jesus whom Paul preached, get out," and then say in reply, "I know Jesus and I know Paul, but I've never met a Baptist Jesus." :)

Anonymous said...

Bryan,

Your responses reveals your confusion on the matter. But I will pander to your attempt at redefinition of not only the thread but the nature of salvation...

"Can a Christian who believes a Mormon is going to heaven be orthodox?"

John B.

John Moeller said...

Bryan,

Amen,

Good words.

Baptist Theologue said...

John M., I want to add a bit to what John B. said. John M., you mentioned Acts 6:31. I think you meant to say Acts 16:31. You also mentioned Romans 10:9. You and I would probably agree that the only way for an adult to be saved is for that adult to surrender his life to Jesus in repentance and faith. We would also agree that the Jesus to Whom one surrenders must be the biblical Jesus, not a non-biblical Jesus. Mormons and Muslims, if they believe their own doctrine, believe in a non-biblical Jesus, not the biblical Jesus. For instance, the Qur’an says that Jesus is not God:

“Certainly they disbelieve who say: Surely, Allah—He is the Messiah, son of Marium.”
(Surah 5:17a)

Wes Kenney pointed out in his blog what President Carter believes about Muslims. Notice President Carter’s answers to the following two questions/comments in a GQ magazine interview:

(1) Do you think that if you had been raised in an Islamic culture, you would been comfortable in that faith?

“I would surmise that I would.”

(2) But based on what you believe now, you would have been wrong.

“That may be true. But Jesus said, ‘Judge not, that you be not judged.’ It’s not for me to say that an ignorant Ethiopian who lives around a lake at the origin of the Blue Nile, where I was four days ago, and has never heard of Christ is condemned. I can’t believe that. And I can’t say that a child as you just described, that grew up with Islamic teachings and that believes in Mohammed and Allah, would be condemned. It’s not my role to condemn people. That’s a role to be played by God almighty.”

http://men.style.com/gq/features/full?id=content_4072&pageNum=3

Amy Downey said...

I believe you are changing the topic again ... another good debate strategy.

I don't see in any of your other posts in which anyone claimed that President Carter is not a Baptist. His membership is in a Baptist church even though he has renounced his connection to the SBC Convention.

What people have objected to is that this former president (who is a Baptist -- no debate there) has an incorrect soteriology that is inclusivist at best and universalist at worst.

You would deny my above statement because of a short conversation you had with him. I would affirm my statement because of what he has repeatedly stated to the press (see previous posts for the links).

And by the way, I do know what a Baptist is ... and I personally think that many on both sides of the aisle have lost that identity because of perceptions, biases and agendas.

My ultimate questions, which have still yet to be completely answered on the previous post, is does President Carter understand the true nature of salvation? If not, then is cooperation truly possible?

John Moeller said...

John B.

Amuse me, explain this;
"Can a Baptist who believes Mormons go to heaven be an orthodox Christian?"

are you saying that anyone who dares to say Mormons can go to heaven are not "real" Christians?

and

A Mormons definition of "Lord" is unbiblical.

State facts, what is their definition of Lord? Do you know or are you giving opinion?

John Moeller said...

Baptist T;

You state; We would also agree that the Jesus to Whom one surrenders must be the biblical Jesus, not a non-biblical Jesus.

You then tell me about Muslims beliefs. I Agree, Muslims are off base and do not believe in Jesus. Tell me about Mormons. What are the facts?

On Jimmy Carter. I too say, I am not in a position to judge. It is God who Judges the heart. Why is that a bad thing to say? How do you approach someone who needs the love of God?

Amy Downey said...

Forgot to explain why I can truly say that I know what a Baptist is.

My father was a Baptist pastor for 27 years until his death in 2000. One of the things that he did at every new pastorate is to institute a Sunday night series called "Why We Are Baptists." He went step by step through the doctrinal statement (our Baptist denomination followed a model of the New Hampshire Confession). Therefore, I do know what in the Sam Hill a Baptist is.

Just wanted to clarify myself in case there were any questions or assumptions.

Bob Cleveland said...

I just had an off-the-wall thought.

We hear plenty about our history, about Anabaptists, about Sandy Creek-Charleston, about the Conservative Resurgence, and lots of other stuff that happened X, Y, or Z years ago. The thought strikes me now: I wonder what history and/or traditions folks X, Y, or Z years in the future will be talking about, when they talk about the SBC (especially if they have access to all this stuff going on now.)

That may depend on whether the SBC is still around.

Anonymous said...

John Moeller,

Please read my words as written. I do not have the time nor the desire to debate semantics.

1). A person who believes Mormons go to heaven are inclusivists and therefore unorthodox in their belief.

2). My dear brother, I will allow you to do your own homework on Mormon's beliefs of Christ for yourself, as I have already done mine. They do not believe Jesus is eternal, and therefore their definition of "Lord" is skewed.

John B.

Baptist Theologue said...

John M., you asked me for the facts about Mormons.

From Walter Martin:

“It will be conceded by most informed students of Christianity that one cannot deny the existence of the one true God of Scripture and at the same time lay claim to being a Christian. . . . Mormon theology then is polytheistic, teaching in effect that the universe is inhabited by different gods who procreate spirit children which are in turn clothed with bodies on different planets.”

Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1985), 200, 204.

“ ‘Gods exist, and we had better strive to be prepared to be one with them’ (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, p. 238).”

Martin, 203.

From the official Mormon site:

“The Lord has blessed us with the ability to enjoy an eternal life with the Gods, and this is pronounced the greatest gift of God. The gift of eternal life, without a posterity, to become an angel, is one of the greatest gifts that can be bestowed; yet the Lord has bestowed on us the privilege of becoming fathers of lives. What is a father of lives as mentioned in the Scriptures? A man who has a posterity to an eternal continuance. That is the blessing Abraham received, and it perfectly satisfied his soul. He obtained the promise that he should be the father of lives (DBY, 97).”

http://www.lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg/menuitem.b3bc55cbf541229058520974e44916a0/?vgnextoid=88021b08f338c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=bea7767978c20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=1

So, with the Mormons, you are talking about a current Lord for this planet, but in reality they believe in many Lords/gods. They are polytheistic.

John M., you said:

“On Jimmy Carter. I too say, I am not in a position to judge. It is God who Judges the heart. Why is that a bad thing to say? How do you approach someone who needs the love of God?”

Matthew 7:1 does not mean that we should not make judgment calls about whether a person is a Christian. If you have used Evangelism Explosion, you know that two diagnostic questions are used to help the witness determine whether a person to whom he might share the gospel is a Christian. I was used by God last week to lead a person to Christ by means of the EE presentation.

Here are a couple of helpful quotes about the judging mentioned in Matthew 7:1:

“But what he refers to is a habit of forming a judgment hastily, harshly, and without an allowance for every palliating circumstance, and a habit of ‘expressing’ such an opinion harshly and unnecessarily when formed.” (Albert Barnes)

“The habit of censoriousness, sharp, unjust criticism. Our word critic is from this very word. It means to separate, distinguish, discriminate. That is necessary, but prejudice (prejudgment) is unfair, captious criticism.” (A. T. Robertson)

Anonymous said...

John Moeller,

Perhaps your answer to this question will clarify our disagreement on this issue.

"Do Mormons go to heaven?"

Answer that and many of the issues will be clarified.

John B.

Baptist Theologue said...

Second try on LDS web address:

http://www.lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg
/menuitem.b3bc55cbf5412290585209
74e44916a0/?vgnextoid=88021b08f3
38c010VgnVCM1000004d82620a
RCRD&locale=0&sourceId=bea
7767978c20110VgnVCM100000
176f620a____&hideNav=1

Debbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debbie said...

It seems this thread is getting way off topic. The title tells me this is not a debate on Mormons.

Amy: I personally do not see this thread or the previous one as a "debate tactic".

Amy Downey said...

Debbie,

With all due respect, I do. I debated in high school, I taught it to high school students, I have a Master's degree in communication, and I recognize it when I see it.

I will not get into a discussion with you on this matter because I refuse to go off onto secondary matters.

I just want your pastor to answer in a straightforward manner my questions. That is all I ask. Straightforwardness ... what a concept!

davidinflorida said...

Pastor Wade,

Colonel Sam Hill had a nephew on his sisters side named Slim Pickens. Tired of people using his uncles name in vain, he invented a new term during the making of the movie Blazing Saddles. The phrase never really caught on.

But anyway , " what in the wide wide world of sports is a Baptist?"

I don`t know for sure. I do know what a Christian is.

Debbie said...

Amy: For this being a secondary matter you have used it twice now and I'm sorry but I see honesty no debate tactics. I believe you should read the words and take them at fact value, not dismiss them as "debate tactics." Using those terms dismisses what is being said. That's been too easy for you to do no matter what your credentials. I won't give you my credentials if you do not give me yours. :)

Debbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debbie said...

Amy: The title of this thread is concerning the identity of Baptists. I have read the other thread and saw the answer to your question.

Emily said...

Its very interesting to me that in a post on the distinctives of Baptists, so much time and energy has been spent on pinning down who is "in" and who is "out" (whether in terms of the Baptist tradition or eternal life in general). This is the tricky thing about soul competency, isn't it? Each of us answer to the Lord Jesus for our work in the Kingdom of God. I hope that "line-drawing" hasn't become another Baptist distinctive. That would be tremendously sad.

I have my share of misgivings about the Baptist Covenant, especially the participation of politicians with sometimes less-than-clear theological views, but I trust the work of the Spirit in Wade's life and his ability to discern what he should and should not be a part of. I had the same misgivings about my friends' participation in the Moral Majority in the past. Yet, I find tremendous freedom in the fact that the Holy Spirit is the blessed Counselor and Comforter who owns each of these people and can lead them into all Truth without my help. I can provide counsel when they ask for my advice, but once the decision is made, I entrust them to God.

Wade, there is room in my understanding of the Baptist tradition for many more discerning, thoughtful, and cooperative "souls" like you. I entrust your journey of discipleship to Jesus and look forward to how it all turns out. Something tells me that God has many more unexpected and even uncomfortable paths for you to blaze in the future. Thanks for taking us along for a small part of the ride!

Anonymous said...

I have said many times and on several blogs that one's presuppositions are what determine the answers to any given question. Frankly I don't know President Carter's mind or heart; but then neither do any of you, so we are all even on that one. IF your presupposition is that President Carter has a fully worked out, consistent, and thorough-going theology, and IF he understands logic and uses it with exactly the same premises as do "you," then yes, he would seem to be either an "inclusivist" or a "universalist." IF.

Fact is, a great many seminary-trained pastors fail to have a consistent, thorough-going theology of their own. Oh, they may say, "I affirm the the Doctrines of Grace (Calvinism)," or "I am an Arminian," or, heaven forbid, "I am neo-orthodox" or "neo-evangelical," whatever, but they have not made any theological system their own, and they have not worked out all the ramifications of basic doctrines they have affirmed. And if many of "us" have failed to do that, aren't we setting an awfully high standard for an elderly, small-town Sunday School teacher, even if he did achieve the highest political office in the land?

And logic: well, that sounds simple and universal, but the reality is that there is a lot of "baggage" accompanying any deductive work. We can easily be detracted from the actual "minor premise" of one's syllogism. Determining what is a minor premise and what is ancillary is not as easy in real life as it is Intro to Philosophy or Logic textbooks. There are a lot of times that I have made a statement, and then had someone go several steps beyond what I said to surmise what I would say on some related issue, thinking they had identified a correct minor premise. And sometimes they were correct, but many times they were just plain wrong--because I identified a different premise, or saw a modifier. So I ask: is it possible that you who are so convinced President Carter thinks Muslims and Mormons (all? some?) go to heaven, and President Carter himself have different conclusions? Is it possible that all President Carter was attempting to express is that God determines who is and who isn't saved? Frankly, that's what I got out of the interviews and statements in question, and yes, I did read them in their entirity.

Finally, consider exactly what President Carter's vocation was, at least for much of his life, and what has defined his life: he is a politician. I use that term with no negative connotation. Althouigh there are exceptions, to be a successful politician, one pretty well has to become adept at making statements which are truthful yet are still incomplete--so that the politician still has some wiggle-room without reversing himself and looking weak, and so that hearers can come to their own conclusions, hopefully which will provide support for the politician. Abraham Lincoln for example: he and Ronald Reagan are popularly regarded as two of the most religious Presidents we have had, yet neither of them attended church or belonged to any church. And with the possible exceptions of Harry Truman and William Henry Harrison (who died--what, a month into office?), most of our Presidents have been very good at the art of making positive, incomplete statements. But to assume you can take those statements and construct from them a complete picture of what the president/politician believes is naive.

Bottom line: we should not assume that our constructs of what President Carter believes on verious issues are correct, or that that he is being logically inconsistent when we do not see all things. Isn't that, at least in part, what James 1: 19-20 instructs us?

John Fariss

Strider said...

I think you guys are missing Carter's point on purpose, but I can not be sure and Carter would be unhappy with me if I judged you that way.

I will try and clarify what I believe Carter's position is based on what has been quoted.
President Carter does not agree with Mormon theology. He is not a Mormon. He upholds Jesus as the Christ in all the ways that Baptists do. The thing that makes you angry- it seems to me- is that he is unwilling to condemn those with whom he disagrees with. Many of you are playing by a set of rules that says, 'This is the truth, you must agree with my version of the truth, and you must condemn all those who disagree with me before we can have fellowship.' President Carter refuses to play by your rules. He declares the truth and demonstrates the love of God better than the vast majority of us but when it comes to condemning he refuses. It does not matter if I think he is right not to condemn Mormons, and Jews, and Muslims. The fact is that condemning others has nothing to do with Biblical Soteriology. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. No mention of, 'oh, and by the way you must also condemn all the heretics in order to be saved.' It ain't there.
Listen to this carefully please! I am not saying that Momons, Jews, and Muslims are going to heaven. As far as I have read- and I could be wrong- President Carter has not said that there doctrine is good and that they will go to heaven. What he is doing is simply trying to be loving and not condemning. Jesus condemned the religious elite for condemning and everyone else- whom he knew did not understand truth- he loved and accepted. I think President Carter is trying to do this. Could he do this better? Maybe. Would I say the things he said? Well, I have not. But I am not his judge. He is a baptist who loves Jesus. That alone earns him my love and acceptance.

texasinafrica said...

Great post, Wade. I would echo another commenter's point about priesthood of the believer being one of the keys to understanding what makes Baptists distinct. From your definition, couldn't many non-denominational, Assemblies of God, or other churches also be considered "Baptist"?

Walter Shurden's four freedoms clarify for me the things that make Baptists distinctive: we are free to interpret the Bible, our churches are free from external control, we are free from entanglement with the state, and we have soul freedom. I know that these understandings are some of what separates moderate Baptists from conservative Baptists.

Of course, my working definition has always been that a Baptist is a person who won't say hello to another member of his church when they bump into one another at the liquor store. :)

Baptist Theologue said...

Strider, you said,

“I am not saying that Momons, Jews, and Muslims are going to heaven. As far as I have read- and I could be wrong- President Carter has not said that there doctrine is good and that they will go to heaven.”

Check out what President Carter said about Mormons in answer to the question, “Do you think a Mormon is a Christian?” President Carter stated,

“Yes, I do. I have a cousin who is a Mormon and she married one of the Marriott family. I don’t know anyone who’s more devout in their faith than she and her family. I admire them very much.”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17723147
/ site/newsweek/page/2/

Anonymous said...

bapt. theologue,

i dont think a lot of people in here are concerned with the facts. they are more concerned with the spin they put on it. many in here and in other blogs have shown direct quotes from mr. carter concerning his erroneous and dangerous beliefs, and they dont seem to believe the clear, distinct quotes that have been given them.

this is what's so concerning.

david...volfan007

Anonymous said...

Dear BT,

Two things: number one, is President Carter speaking about all Mormons, or specificially about ONE Mormon, who is his cousin? Yes, the interviewer is probably asking--in a less than theologicially precise way--if his opinion is that Mormonism is a legidimate Christian denomination; but the form is less precise than I would have asked it, or probably you. So I would ask, "Can we get a precise answer from an imprecise question, and be assurred that it means exactly what I think it means?"

And two, is it possible that President Carter was doing one of two things: answering in such a way so as not to offend a family member with whom he seems to be impressed, or doing what most politicians do best: answering an imprecise question with equal imprecision, so that many "constituents" can interpret it favorably?

BTW: I consider Mormonism a cult, I know that their Jesus is NOT the Jesus of the Bible, and I know that their theology is. . . wacky to say the least, downright dangerous, and WRONG. HOWEVER, I am not willing to say that no Mormon will be in heaven. Why? For one thing, God is the judge, not me (see Hosea 1:8-2:1). For another, consider Mormon conversion tactics: most Mormons do no know a significant amount of Mormon theology until they have been a Mormon for YEARS. They "get a leg up" (so to speak) using a widely known understanding of the Biblical Jesus, and piggy-backing on that. Only later do they allow converts to know the Mormon identification of Jesus. You may be prepared to say that a person who professes faith in Jesus as savior in a Mormon "setting" without knowing how the Mormons really identify Him will go to Hell, but I am not prepared to do so, even as wrong as their theology/"church", etc. is.

John Fariss

Emily said...

Baptist Theologue:

Attempting to reconcile Carter's public statement (which you quote) with his personal confession to Wade, I would have to say: Maybe for Carter, "a Christian" does not equal "going to heaven." In theory, he could (mistakenly) think Mormons are Christians and yet not think they are (generally) "going to heaven." Just like I think Assemblies of God are Christian, and Baptists are Christian, but they are not necessarily going to heaven because of their association.

David (volfan007):

I don't think its "concerning" to try to give a professed Chrisitian the benefit of the doubt. I try to do the same with any other respected Christian (public leader or otherwise) who says things that appear to be mutually exclusive, or illogical, or unfaithful to scripture. When President Bush praises Islam as a true and good religion, I keep my concerns to myself and trust that he doesn't fully grasp what he is saying. When Billy Graham affirms that the God of the Bible hears the prayers of all peoples of faith, I keep my concerns to myself for the same reason.

I am not spinning anything. I am trying to give a brother in Christ the room to be wrong, publicly, and not suffer forever for it.

Amy Downey said...

I have one last question and this is solely directed at Wade --

If it is shown that any of the speakers for the January 2008 meeting are inclusivistic or universalistic in their approach to soteriology. Will you drop out and/or reconsider your position?

That's all.

Amy Downey said...

Forgive the grammar mistake but I think that is a non-issue in this debate.

joerstewart said...

Amen! This post reminds me of why I am proudly a Southern Baptist!

Chris said...

As it now stands, the comments on this post are encased by a set of parenthesis; 1st comment-proud Baptist, last comment (before my own)-proud Baptist. Pardon me for my opinion, but many of you are too "proud" of being a Baptist. So many of you are so far away from biblical Christianity that you can't even see it from where you are. There should be no such thing as a proud Baptist, since there is no such thing as a proud Christian (Gal. 6.14). Many of you are just as "proud" to be your-kind-of-Baptist as men like Patterson are of being their-kind-of-Baptist.

Wade Burleson said...

Robbie Sagers,

Dr. Nettles additional descriptive nomenclature for Baptists of being a people of 'conscientious confessionality' only narrows different kinds of Baptists, but does not change the nature of what it means to be a Baptist.

For instance, confessions distinguish Particular Baptists from General Baptists, Strict Baptists from Open Communion Baptists, etc . . .

The first three descriptive words from Nettles form the essence of being a Baptist whereas the later desciptive phrase adds nothing to the meaning or definition of Baptist.

Wade Burleson said...

Bart Barber,

So often, as in this string, your comments prove the proposition of my post. I really am grateful for your comments.

:)

Wade Burleson said...

Irreverend Fox,

A regenerative membership implies 'believers' baptism.

Wade Burleson said...

Amy,

If I were you, I would listen to Debbie. She has known me for well over a decade. I don't believe I have had the pleasure of meeting you. Others should trust also trust Debbie's assessment of what I write because I have not, as of yet, seen her miss my motive or purpose one time in her assessment's of my posts.

Wade Burleson said...

John Farris,

Your comment contains as much clarity, logic and insight as any I have read on the subject.

Wade Burleson said...

Strider,

Well done as well.

Emily,

Thank you.

Wade Burleson said...

Amy,

I will answer your question on my blog Friday. I hope you read it carefully and only comment after you have thought through the logic of what I will be saying. I think you will find the post very interesting and it will address your question specifically.

Geoff Baggett said...

Amy,

Check out Kirby Godsey.

It's actually his Christology that is much more of an issue. He has, in his own writings, rejected an orthodox view of the person and atoning work of Christ. Check out Rob Ayers' post at http://www.fearfulteacher.blogspot.com/ .

WTJeff said...

For all that are taking exception with Wade for participating in the NBC, I'm confused as to how you might ever be an agent for change. Wade has made it very clear that he does not agree with much of what Jimmy Carter has to say -- not theologically or politically. However, he is willing to engage Jimmy in one area they have in common, the desire to cooperate with fellow baptist to reach the world in Jesus' name. Those who err theologically will never be changed because we stand on the sideline and insist they believe like us before we get involved. The possibility for change comes when we come along side them and earn the right to speak the truth into their lives.

If much of what has been said about Jimmy Carter is true (and it appears much of it is) any hope for him to change will lie with Wade and those like him who are willing to dialog rather than cast stones. Those only willing to separate themselves may have fine points of criticism, but have done nothing to change the situation.

Grace,

Jeff

Baptist Theologue said...

John Fariss, you asked,

“Is President Carter speaking about all Mormons, or specificially about ONE Mormon, who is his cousin?”

Let’s look at what he said again. In answer to the question, “Do you think a Mormon is a Christian?” President Carter stated,

“Yes, I do. I have a cousin who is a Mormon and she married one of the Marriott family. I don’t know anyone who’s more devout in their faith than she and her family. I admire them very much.”

The question was not specifically about his cousin. It was about Mormons in general, and I think you conceded that point when you said, “The interviewer is probably asking--in a less than theologicially precise way--if his opinion is that Mormonism is a legidimate Christian denomination.” You suggested that the form of the question was not precise, but both you and I understood it to be a question about Mormonism in general. President Carter is a very intelligent man, and I believe that he understood the nature of the question.

Emily, you said,

“Attempting to reconcile Carter's public statement (which you quote) with his personal confession to Wade, I would have to say: Maybe for Carter, ‘a Christian’ does not equal ‘going to heaven.’ In theory, he could (mistakenly) think Mormons are Christians and yet not think they are (generally) ‘going to heaven.’”

Do you have any evidence for this? How do you explain his statement about Muslims? Notice again what he said:

(1) Do you think that if you had been raised in an Islamic culture, you would been comfortable in that faith?

“I would surmise that I would.”

(2) But based on what you believe now, you would have been wrong.

“That may be true. But Jesus said, ‘Judge not, that you be not judged.’ It’s not for me to say that an ignorant Ethiopian who lives around a lake at the origin of the Blue Nile, where I was four days ago, and has never heard of Christ is condemned. I can’t believe that. And I can’t say that a child as you just described, that grew up with Islamic teachings and that believes in Mohammed and Allah, would be condemned. It’s not my role to condemn people. That’s a role to be played by God almighty.”

http://men.style.com/gq/features/full?id=content_4072&pageNum=3

Anonymous said...

Chris, I can tell by your logo's how far to the left you are.

Colin said...

Wade,

I am not so sure Bart helped your cause as you stated. His point was that your definition is not a definition but a framework in which to place Baptist beliefs.

I know I have asked this before (to no response as always) but would you mind asking your friend Dr. Nettles, given that you are basing your argument on his scholarship, to comment on the definition of a Baptist as you state it?

blackhaw66 said...

I have been reading this blog recently and I feel I need to post something. It seems like all want to be faithful Christians and faithful Baptists. Okay. Some see the spread of the gospel by any means necessary as very important while others stress doctrine and how our beliefs make us who we are.

For my opinion. It is easy to see by looking at the website of this new conference in January that they have invited many that hold to non-orthodox positions. At least publically they have made statements that are unorthodox. It is not only Carter but many of the leaders and speakers of the event that are at the very least questionable as to their orthodoxy.

Now I know Carter and the other leaders and speakers to which I am referring call themselves Baptists and Christians but do not beliefs play a part in who is a Christian and who is not? I cannot tell you if Carter or thoe others are Christians. Only God can do that with certainty. However we are told in the Bible to test prophets and see if they are false ones for they will come as wolves in sheeps clothes.

But please do not listen to me, Amy, Wade (yes even Wade), Ben Cole, Richard Land, Paige Patterson, or anyone else about what the leaders and speakers teach publicly about Christ and Christianity. With all integrity and truth go to the website and look up what they believe and see if you can say that we should just agree to disagree or not.

I am not trying to say what is a Baptist or that Wade is evil or trying to be elusive or using trickery. What I am pleading everyone to do is to not base your decisions on whether you like Wade or not or whether you like Patterson or not. Look at what the leaders have said in public and make up your own mind.

Remember also doctrine is important. The church is called to make statements like Mormons are not Christians or JWs are not because of this or this doctrine that goes against the Word of God. There is nothing wrong with that. Of course we cannot say Mr. Joe Mormon you personally are unsaved and going to hell. Although we can say that you must confess the truth about Christ and if you believe mormon doctrines you will not be saved.

Anyways I hope many will take my advice and see for themselves what the conference leaders teach. I will post again sometime giving you evidence of what I see they teach. But before I do that, please go see and google them for yourselves.

Emily said...

Baptist Theologue:

In general response to your questions, I would like to refer you to the excellent points offered by John Fariss above. I am in complete agreement with him. I tire of this whole line of discussion and I don't want to press the point any further. I no longer see any benefit from it.

Regarding President Carter's comments about the destiny of unevangelized Muslims, when I read his quotation in light of his statements to Christ's supremacy elsewhere, I must assume that he asserts what can be called "soft exclusivism" or "hopeful exclusivism." This would mean asserting the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ's person and work, so much so that there is hope for the possibility that many who do not know Christ cognitively will be covered by Christ's blood at God's merciful initiative. (I recommend Zondervan's Four Views on Salvation for more information.)

I would argue that despite the exclusivism preached from our SBC pulpits, this view of the efficacy of salvation for the unevangelized is the majority view among lay people. At the end of the day, they are not comfortable advocating hell as the destiny for African children who, by virtue of their birthplace, happen to be brought up Muslim. I'm not saying its right, but I am saying it is common. President Carter, as much as his words bother us, is not alone among SBC lay people. Perhaps the problem isn't him, its us.

Anonymous said...

Dear Pastor Burleson,

Thank you for your response. Holding to conscientious confessionality is within Dr. Nettles's entire framework of what it means to be a Baptist. So yes, contrary to what you assert, this fourth category does indeed "change the nature of what it means to be a Baptist."

So, for example, those who say something along the lines of, "We have no creed but the Bible" (which, of course, is itself a creed) would be outside of Dr. Nettles's framework of what it means to be a Baptist.

There was much more that could have been said in my first comment, but I tried to only further flesh out what you had originally written in your post.

The simple fact of the matter is, in judging many of those participating in the New Baptist Covenant by Dr. Nettles's criteria, you don't even need to get to this fourth category. You don't need to get to the third, or even the second either! The first category, "orthodoxy," rules out as Baptists (within Dr. Nettles's framework) many of those participating in the New Baptist Covenant.

For example, Dr. Nettles places holding to Chalcedonian Christology within the parameters of being orthodox ("The Baptists," vol. 1, p. 38). This would exclude, for instance, Kirby Godsey from Dr. Nettles's definition of what it means to be a Baptist.

But then this is all within the parameters of another distinction Dr. Nettles makes, that between what he calls the "soul-liberty party" and the "coherent-truth party." Perhaps you could write a post on the differences between these two perspectives of Baptist identity?

What I am trying to get at, Pastor Burleson, is that if you are trying to justify historically and theologically your meeting with President Carter and participation in the New Baptist Covenant, Dr. Tom J. Nettles is probably the last historian to whom you should be appealing! By his definition, many (most?) of those participating in the New Baptist Covenant are not, in fact, Baptists, because they are outside of his framework of Baptist identity.

Which brings us back to the original point of your post.

I hope you have a great evening, Pastor Burleson.

In Christ,
Robbie Sagers

Anonymous said...

emily,

at the end of the age, all who die outside of Jesus Christ will go to hell. that's what the bible teaches...clearly.

the good news is that we can be saved...rescued...delivered. thats why the gospel is good news. we can be saved from hell if we will repent and put our faith in Jesus....JESUS CHRIST. acts 20:20-21
romans 10:9-13
john 3:16

hindus, jews, mormons, jw's, moonies, muslims, pagans, and all others who die without Jesus will go to the lake of fire to pay for thier sins forever. that's what the bible clearly teaches. the verses in the nt are so numerous.

so, we must seek to lead them to Jesus. we must get the Word of God to them. before they die and go out into eternity unprepared.

david...volfan007

Kaylor said...

Robbie Sagers: You wrote that "many (most?) of those participating in the New Baptist Covenant are not, in fact, Baptists, because they are outside of his framework of Baptist identity."

Many? Most? Come on now, don't exaggerate your case. The only person you complained about was Godsey. And the only other I've seen anyone complain about is Carter. Well, even if those objections are correct that is a very small percentage and certainly not many or most.

IN HIS NAME said...

Wade and those that read GOD'S WORD.

Why do Baptist not want to except what GOD’S WORD has to say and then turn around and say we are people of the Book?? Wade has said from the beginning that we are to do as JESUS commanded us to do and that is the Great Commission. GOD wrote the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world and most Baptist can’t except this, why not?

The Great Commission

Mat 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Mat 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Lamb’s Book of Life

The names of Christians are in the Book of Life (Philippians 4:3)
Our names cannot be removed from the Book of Life (Revelation 3:5)
People whose names are not written in the Book of Life will experience God’s wrath (Revelation 20:15)
Only those whose names are in God’s Book will enter heaven (Revelation 21:27)
Joh 17:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Eph 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love

Phi 4:3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rev 3:5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.

Rev 13:8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain.

Rev 17:8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.

Rev 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.

Rev 20:15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Rev 21:27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.

In His Name
Wayne Smith

R. L. Vaughn said...

Wade, you do not say whether you have Nettles' Baptists: Key People Involved in Forming a Baptist Identity or are making an assessment based on what Robbie posted. Will Shin says that Tom Nettles wrote that "Baptist churches have always made plain to their members and to the world the truths that are believed by the church as a whole" and that they "have done this by setting forth confessions of faith that have been used for teaching doctrine and in corrective church discipline." I don't have the book or easy access to it, so for now I am limited to what others are saying. Will's quote gives the appearance that Nettles means that 'conscientious confessionality' is a trait of Baptists -- not just that the confessions and creed delineate the different kinds of Baptists. Robbie Sager's second post supports that. Do you have something specific in mind that Tom Nettles wrote that would lead us to the other conclusion?

texasinafrica, you wrote, "Walter Shurden's four freedoms clarify for me the things that make Baptists distinctive: we are free to interpret the Bible, our churches are free from external control, we are free from entanglement with the state, and we have soul freedom. I know that these understandings are some of what separates moderate Baptists from conservative Baptists."

I am intrigued as to why you believe these understandings separate moderate Baptists from conservative Baptists. I can't imagine any Baptist disagreeing with the four freedoms as you state them above (though we do disagree with some of the details in Shurden's book). I wrote several posts reviewing it, which can be found in my archives here. TIA, I'd love to get your feedback on it, if you have time. I'd also appreciate your take on why these 4 separate moderates and conservatives.

For all, I wonder how much your take on Baptist origins informs your view of Baptist identity. I would assume, based on statistics, that most posting in this thread hold an English Separatist origins theory of Baptist origins. If so, do you believe that the thing/things that caused those Separatists to become Baptists are inherently part of being Baptist?

Wade Burleson said...

Robbie Sagers,

I'm having a great evening, thank you.

Unfortunately, I must disagree with your assessment, but I do appreciate you taking the time to comment.

Confessionalism is not essential to the nature of what it means to be a Baptist, and Dr. Nettles did not place this in his original book on defining a Baptist.

I grant to you that 'confessionalism' and not 'creedalism' is a part of our Baptist history, but it is possible to be a Baptist without even being close to 'conscientiously confessional' in a formal manner(implying intentional documents, officially accepted, and preserved for posterity).

I would propose that the early church were baptists (immersers of believers upon confession of faith in Christ as Lord) and there was no confession but the Scriptures.

My argument is a simple one:

Why do we treat with more animosity and hatred those brothers who affirm themselves as Baptists? We owe our very enemies love, and I know enough about Baptists of all stripes to know that there is no reason for me to despise or hate any brother in Christ who is an orthodox, evangelical separatist.

You say to me in your comment "in judging many of those participating in the New Baptist Covenant by Dr. Nettles's criteria, you don't even need to get to this fourth category."
That's the problem as it seems to me. You and others are judging.

I am taking people at their word that this convocation is not political, has as a purpose dialogue and fellowship around the Jesus Christ and what He can do for our world, and a testimony to others that Baptists don't always act as if they hate each other.

If I find that I am being duped and the event is political in nature, I think I have shown that I have the backbone to call people out for lying. If there are people there who are neo-orthodox or flat out liberals, then maybe my conservative, evangelical conversation and dialogue with them will show them a better way. If we keep pulling out from fellowship with everyone that is more 'liberal' than us, then may maybe we ought to keep our mouths shut about convocations being 'liberal.' What should we expect? There are no gracious conservatives present.

More on this Friday.

In His Grace,

Wade

R. L. Vaughn said...

Wade, you wrote "Confessionalism is not essential to the nature of what it means to be a Baptist, and Dr. Nettles did not place this in his original book on defining a Baptist."

1. I agree that confessionalism is not essential to the nature of what it means to be a Baptist. The early Separate Baptists were not confessional, and in fact rejected creeds and confessions of faith. I far as I am concerned, they were pretty good Baptists.
2. I agree that Tom Nettles did not place this in By His Grace and For His Glory on defining a Baptist.
3. But the facts that confessionalism is not essential to the nature of what it means to be a Baptist and that Tom Nettles did not place this in his original book on defining a Baptist does not mean he hasn't added more criteria in the newer book Robbie and I are referencing Baptists: Key People Involved in Forming a Baptist Identity).
4. So your comment does not address what you asserted earlier -- "Dr. Nettles additional descriptive nomenclature for Baptists of being a people of 'conscientious confessionality' only narrows different kinds of Baptists, but does not change the nature of what it means to be a Baptist."

Debbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debbie said...

Wade: To your last post Amen!

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Kaylor,

Surely you are kidding? Jimmy Carter and Kirby Godsey are indeed seriously astray from biblical orthodoxy, but they are hardly the only ones with problems here. Al Gore? Bill Clinton? Bill Underwood? Bill Moyers? Bruce Prescott? The list goes on and on.

Now, these men have every right to meet and to talk about whatever they wish. They even have a right to call it "Baptist." But when men who have openly denied the truthfulness of the Scripture, the exclusivity of Christ, and, in Godsey's case, even the deity of our Lord, are calling together a meeting supposedly united around "the Gospel," one must wonder why those professing to be Southern Baptist "conservatives" would be cheering them on.

Wade Burleson furthermore has every right to join in in such an endeavor. And he has many Baptist historians to whom he could appeal for justification for this kind of "cooperation": Walter Shurden and Bill Leonard, for example. Tom Nettles, however, is not among them. And that was the point of my original comment.

In Christ,
Robbie Sagers

country baptist preacher said...

I am not here to defend mormons. However,i would like to make a point.

who died on the cross?
who saves?
who gets to say who gets to heaven?
who has the keys to heaven and hell?
I am not a great fan of President Carter but when he says "judge not" he is right.

I have watched many men die, some at peace and some screaming in terror.

I have seen people (including my dear saintly Mother) speak to her Lord with her last breath.

I have seen athiest say the word 'Jesus" with their last breath and then smile and their faces light up as they die.

NO ONE, let me repeat NO ONE knows what goes on between a man and his Maker in the Spirit world in those moments before death.

Scripture says "When I am lifted up I WILL DRAW ALL MEN UNTO ME" and it says "God does not wish that any should perish.........."

Now don't anyone get self rightous and accuse me of universalism. That is not what I am saying,

It is arrogance to carry an opinion that all will go to hell who do not see eye to eye with us, our interpretations or applications.

A few years ago I was in Eastern Europe and I became friends with a Russian who was tortured for his faith BEFORE HE BECAME A CHRISTIAN (by our formula)

He was a soldier and decided that there must be a God since the commies spent so much time trying to get rid of HIm.

This man had never heard of Jesus. He began to ask God to show Himself. He was caught praying and was whipped, hanged to withing seconds of death, cut and mutilated. He had hundreds of scars.

He asked me, "how could I know that I knew, that i knew even before I heard the word JESUS?"

I ask you all, can a person who has never been tortured for their faith tell a person who has been tortured ANYTHING?

By the way, when he made his "PUBLIC PROFESSION" IT WAS IN THE CHURCH HELD IN THE SEWER UNDER THE CITY, STANDING ON ROCKS TO STAY OUT OF THE MUCK."

He was already a Christian but the Baptist said he HAD TO MAKE A PUBIC PROFESSION.

He had hundreds of scars and had been in a prison for his faith in Christ but still, somebody had rules of Baptist that had to be followed.

CAN A PERSON WHO HAS NOT BEEN TORTURED FOR THIER FAITH TELL SOMEONE WHO HAS ANYTHING ABOUT FAITH?

"pride comes before what????

grace
cbp

Phillip Bethancourt said...

Wade, I have two comments in response to your critique of Robbie Sagers:

First, you say "Confessionalism is not essential to the nature of what it means to be a Baptist, and Dr. Nettles did not place this in his original book on defining a Baptist." However, "By His Grace, For His Glory" is not best described as a book defining what it means to be Baptist. Instead, it focuses on a historical analysis of calvinism among Baptists. While this book does treat baptist identity, it is not the primary focus. Instead, The Baptists Vol. 1 & 2 referenced by Sagers are intended to provide a framework for what it means to be a baptist. It is there that Nettles provides the four part perspective on Baptist identity including 'conscientious confessionalism.' To try to undermine the importance of 'conscientious confessionalism' to Nettles' view of Baptist identity because it wasn't included in the first book is invalid.

Second, you say "That's the problem as it seems to me. You and others are judging." My question is, what is the point of having a framework for baptist identity (like the one described by Nettles) if you aren't going to judge people by it?

Sagers' main point still stands--that appealing to Nettles for your support of the New Baptist Covenant is not credible. If Nettles is your friend, then why don't you contact him to see what he thinks about you using his framework to advocate for the New Baptist Covenant?

Anonymous said...

Dear Pastor Burleson,

You have completely misunderstood Dr. Nettles’ written arguments—and misappropriated them completely. I happened to run into Dr. Nettles this afternoon and asked him the question directly for fear that I might have misunderstood him. My assessment of his understanding of the confessional building-blocks of Baptist identity was, in fact, the way he sees it. The truth is, I owe my assertion that many--if not most--of the publicly-celebrated participants in the New Baptist Covenant are outside of ALL his categories of Baptist identity in large part to Dr. Nettles’ own writing and teaching, as well as our conversation today.

That doesn’t mean that I am right, or that Dr. Nettles is right. Again, there are many Baptist historians who would advocate a creedless and more sociological definition of Baptist identity. That’s one of the reasons why Dr. Nettles co-edited a conservative, confessional version of “Why I Am a Baptist,” in direct contradiction of a previous, liberal version that included entries from Jimmy Carter, Tony Campolo, Dan Vestal… well, it turns out, pretty much the speakers’ lineup for the “New Baptist Covenant.”

As for my “judging” President Carter, President Clinton, Dr. Godsey, and the other participants in this allegedly new covenant, I am only taking seriously their membership in Baptist churches and their professions of faith. As the apostle Paul put it, I believe inerrantly and infallibly, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?” (1 Cor 5:12).

It turns out, every one in this movement—and in every movement—is “judging,” if by judging you mean using discernment and placing boundaries as to who should be identified as legitimately within the Baptist family. The New Baptist Covenant excludes Fred Phelps—and rightly so. He is a bigot and a hatemonger. But he identifies himself as a Baptist. And he’s a member of a Baptist church. The New Baptist Covenant wouldn’t put him on the platform. They would exclude him—as well they should. There are white supremacists who are self-identified Baptists. They wouldn’t be there either—and rightly so.

Your assertion that the earliest Christians had “no creed but the Bible” is absurd. The Bible itself contains creedal affirmations--“Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: ‘He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory’” (1 Tim 3:16). Confessions and creeds are necessary precisely because false teachers twist the Scriptures, exactly as the apostles warn us they will (2 Pet 3:15-16). A confession of faith explains why it is that a man who identifies “Jesus” with a Mormon angel is not confessing Christ, the way we believe the Bible calls us to do; why it is that a man who cites “He is the firstborn of all creation” to deny the Trinity is not an orthodox Christian, regardless of how loudly he cites his proof-texts.

And that’s really the issue, I think. Is it good to dialogue about issues of importance? Sure. Is it good to unite, supposedly around the Gospel, with men who teach that unbelievers who have not believed in Christ can be saved apart from belief in the gospel (as President Carter has taught), that most world religions are mythic expressions of Jungian archetypes (as Bill Moyers has done in his work with Joseph Campbell), or that Jesus never claimed to be God (as Kirby Godsey has written)?

Is it good to unite around claims to social justice with men (such as Presidents Carter and Clinton) whose careers are marked by their violent disregard for the innocent blood—and even the humanity—of infants in the womb? I don’t know if David Duke is a Baptist. He might be. I hope you’d never stand smiling for pictures with him—and hope you’d join me in saying, if he were invited to represent Baptists at a national gathering, that this isn’t Baptist, or Christian, or just.

In Christ,
Robbie Sagers

Baptist Theologue said...

I’ve just finished glancing through a book entitled “The Personal Beliefs of Jimmy Carter” (New York: Three Rivers Press). It includes the complete texts of President Carter’s previously published books “Living Faith” (1996) and “Sources of Strength” (1997). I found some interesting quotes related to our previous discussions of President Carter’s positions. It appears that some of his positions have changed since these books were written. I wish he would give some very clear public statements on his current stand on these issues. Notice the following quotes.

From “Living Faith”:

“Although I am a member of Maranatha Baptist Church, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, I don’t feel exclusively loyal to a particular Christian denomination. In fact, looking back on my life, I remember most favorably the close interrelation among the churches in our hometown. My mother was a Methodist and my father a Baptist; Rosalynn was a Methodist.” (195)

“People in my Sunday School class often ask what it means to be a Christian. My best explanation is that a Christian is a person professing Jesus Christ as a personal savior, and striving to have the qualities demonstrated by Jesus. . . . A more private question that I get, usually when a person is leaving my class, is ‘What can I get from these lessons about Jesus if I am not a Christian?’ I explain that personal faith in Christ and a special reverence for him will help to reveal God’s transcendent love. However, I have never found anything in the strictly human life of Jesus that was not admirable and inspirational. So whether or not a doubtful person can accept Jesus’ divinity, there is in him a model of human existence to be studied and perhaps emulated. Jesus’ intriguing and often delightful experiences are fascinating, and they offer examples of how to deal with our afflictions and concerns in a reassuring and joyful way. They give us priorities or standards for living. Almost any of our most exalted ideals can be explained, clarified, and expanded by what Jesus said and did. Jesus’ teachings can help to put us at peace with both our Creator and our neighbors. All of this can be gratifying and valuable, regardless of our public profession of faith.” (234-235)

From “Sources of Strength”:

“ ‘Justified’ means that we are brought into a proper relationship with God, even though we have not merited this blessing because of our own character or good works. This seeming miracle is made possible by our faith, or trusting commitment to Christ and to God. Without this faith, we cannot be reconciled with God.” (89)

Kaylor said...

Robbie: Wow, I sure didn't expect to see David Duke pop up in this conversation. Why don't you just go ahead and bring up Hitler while you are at it? You continue to exaggerate your claims and misstate some facts. As this and previous threads demonstrate, a gathering to unite Baptists is desperately needed. Let me ask this of you: will you at least commit to sincerely pray that the Celebration would be a gathering that truly honors and brings glory to God?

Kaylor said...

Baptist Theologue: Thanks for the quotations! I think some people have misrepresented Carter's beliefs and this should cause them to pause before continuing to throw stones.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy Carter has got to be loving this...

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
“Sam Hill!” was said by my father many times and always he was upset. I never knew what it meant, so thanks, Wade, for the explanation.

A new expression could have been ‘Dave Ray’ as my twin brother and I grew up (starting in the third grade) passing out cards and saying, “Will you vote for my daddy?” It seems every time he got out of debt, he would run for County School Superintendent in Bonham, Texas. At 65, his last failure was getting 10 votes for mayor of Fairbanks, Alaska. (He was speechless when a TV camera was put in his face.)

My father spent many hours in ditches from muddy roads. Once an old woman passed him in a ‘horse & wagon’, yelling to her deaf husband, “You’d think any fool would know to stay in the middle of the road!”

I believe Southern Baptists of today are in the ditch of ‘legalism ‘ from scare tactics of being in the ditch of ‘liberalism’.

Many on this post are condemning Carter for saying, “It’s not my role to condemn people. That’s a role to be played by God almighty.”

I look upon his statement the way I look upon my uncle’s belief. He died at 97. He was so strong, he could pull a bailing wire in two with his hands. In World War I, he was nearly killed by mustard gas. He was a conscientious objector. In ‘hand to hand combat’, he saw a huge German kill two of his friends. As the German raised his gun to plunge a bayonet into his heart, my uncle stood at ‘attention’ with his gun by his side. As their eyes locked, the German lowered his gun and walked on by.

I cannot condemn my uncle’s faith and vow to God anymore than I can Carter’s faith that only God can judge.

Belief Matters said...

Paul told us that if anyone preaches a gospel different from the true gospel he is to be accursed. that's sound pretty judgmental to me.

Jeff

CHRIS HILLIARD said...

Wow! Robbie, your last post was fantastic and truly demands an honsest response from Wade.

CHRIS HILLIARD said...

Kaylor,
You wrote to Robbie, "You continue to exaggerate your claims and misstate some facts." Um, how come you don't have any facts to show that? I find it frustrating when individuals throw things like that out there with out backing it up. Robbie's post is very thorough and easy to research it's validity. Have you done so?

Wade Burleson said...

Mr. Hilliard,

All my responses are honest. :)
But none of our responses (yours or mine) may be demanded. To comment is an opportunity for dialogue. It might be helpful for the furtherance of our written dialogue that the written language be a little softer out of respect for those with home we dialogue.

jack said...

This comment string shows what a mess men have made of God's perfect plan.

We are so busy categorizing believers as Liberals, Moderates, Conservatives, Arminians, Calvinists, etc. that we can't even agree to simply unite around The Gospel.

Wade Burleson said...

Philip and Robbie,

Thank you for you comments. The two of you need to be clear on two points.

(1). First, I have never appealed to Tom Nettles for support of the New Baptist Covenant.

(2). Second, whether or not Nettles now adds 'conscientious confessionality' to his definition of a Baptist is irrelevant to this post. His definition of a Baptist, in By His Grace and For His Glory remains the best I have ever seen and continue to use it in my 'Baptist Identity' classes.

(3). Mr. Sagers, you call the sentence 'The early Christians had no creed but the Bible' absurd. I agree. The early Christians did not even have the Bible as we know it.

(4). I do not know what you gentlemen fear. However, my post stands.

A Baptist is

"orthodox"
"evangelical"
"separatistic"

Both of you have a great day.

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

Baptist Theologue,

I would be interested in your thoughts on Carter's words.

CHRIS HILLIARD said...

wow. um, never intended my choice of words to offend. honestly never saw that coming. i confess that in my excitement over robbie's well written comments I may have chosen too strong a word. my apologies.

how about, "it would be great to hear wade's response to robbie's great comments."

Wade Burleson said...

Much better Chris.

Your wish is my command. :)

Anonymous said...

Dear BT,

Presuppositions, presuppositions, presuppositions.

You stated, "You suggested that the form of the question was not precise, but both you and I understood it to be a question about Mormonism in general. President Carter is a very intelligent man, and I believe that he understood the nature of the question." You are probably right--he probably did understand the intent of the question. But does that mean he answered the intent of the question? Or that he felt an obligation to so answer it?

Your presupposition, it seems to me, is that President Carter was being completely transparent in his answer. Transparency is a quality that I especially admire, and attempt to model. I am 54, and of the Baby Boomer Generation. Transparency seems especially important to those of us born since the end of World War II, although it is by no means a universal trait of any generation. I would suggest the possibility that between President Carter's generation and his vocation (politics), he felt no compulsion to be so completely transparent.

If you wish to chide him for that, be my guest; I will even add my second to it. But if you do, remember--it seems to me--there are a number of prominent Baptist (yes, even Southern Baptist) leaders who are also less than transparent.

John Fariss

Anonymous said...

Wade,

A while you back you said you wished you had spent more time playing golf. I wish I had played golf instead of reading this contentious set of comments. Shooting a 100 would not have been more painful.

Charles Stearns

Wade Burleson said...

Charles,

That's a good one.

I have determined to stay the course. I find that people are not usually as mean or terrible face to face as they seem to be when they write.

I'm giving people the benefit of the doubt and believe great progress is being made.

David R. Mills said...

An acrostic for Bapotist.
B - born again.
A - autonomy of the local Church.
P - priesthood of the believer.
T - two offices - Pastor/Deacon.
I - Immersion baptism method.
S - Separation of Church and State.
T - two ordinances - Baptism/Lord's supper. Pretty simple isn't it???

R. L. Vaughn said...

Wade, in your reply to Robbie, you ended with "my post stands".

No one is questioning the fact that you believe Tom Nettles' "definition of a Baptist, in By His Grace and For His Glory remains the best" or your right to believe that.

But you have added something that seems to be incorrect -- that is, your assessment that "Dr. Nettles additional descriptive nomenclature for Baptists of being a people of 'conscientious confessionality' only narrows different kinds of Baptists, but does not change the nature of what it means to be a Baptist." According to Robbie's personal conversation with Tom Nettles, Tom has said that your statement is not in accord with what he meant.

I agree with you when you write "that people are not usually as mean or terrible face to face as they seem to be when they write." Written communication in a format like this removes a lot of factors/nuances we use to understand our communication. I hope folks will take heed to what you write and realize that most of us folks are not mad at one another.

Written communication also has its good points. How many of us would actually be able to communicate without such a tool as the WWW?

David R. Mills said...

Oops, I do not know what a Bapotist is, but I do know what a Baptist is.

Bob Cleveland said...

Even the really recent additions to my Sunday School class know that you cannot judge anyone's salvation except your own. And we do need to do that, to ourselves.

Even the really recent additions to my Sunday School class know that Paul's command to the Corinthians was to judge those in their church, and was written in response to, and following other admonitions about, gross sin in their local church. And that, if you're not in a position of authority in Pres. Carter's local church, you got no business doing that in relation to him.

Even the really recent additions to my Sunday School class are aware that Baptists need to unite around something, and apparently Baptists don't see it as the gospel. Maybe we could unite around a cause like social justice.

NO ... wait .. that won't work. We're Baptists.

blackhaw66 said...

david r. mills,

Not all Baptists just beleive in two in two offices. Some have elders that are not the pastor also.

And some Baptist are reformed so they do not have two ordinances since the Lord's Supper would be somewhat sacramental.

So your two t's are not necessarily true. Also what it means to say Priesthood of the believer is debated. So even though that is something that would describe Baptists it is not that simple.

But then again Baptists are not that simple. A real problem lies in Baptist's greatest stregnth and weakness. The freedom Bpatists have with the priesthood of the believer and the autonomy of the local church makes it so that others cannot force particular views on non-essential items on the individual believer or church. Thus one cannot force a Baptist or a Baptist church to beleive in just two offices. The church and the individual can decide for themselves. Where this comes a problem is in the essentials. There is no real system for Baptists to force or require another Baptist or Baptist church to beleive in essential doctrine. There is no reason why I should beleive in the creeds. There cannot be a binding creed because of the priesthood of the beleiver and the autonomy of hte local church. At leat there cannot be as they are most often defined. Of course the SBC can decide to not fellowship with a believer or church that does not believe in the essentials but that is all. There is no real system of church discipline.

blackhaw66 said...

R.L. Vaughn,

So you are telling me that I should not judge the salvation of anyone outside of my local church. Okay then I guess I will not judge the salvation of Mormons or Jws or Arians or Nestorians or Pelagians or any other heretics. Is that what you mean?

blackhaw66 said...

soory my post above was to Bob Cleveland and not to Vaughn. Again Sorry.

Lee said...

I don't think you can judge the spiritual condition of anyone based on nothing more than the outward identity of a label.

I attended school from first through twelfth grade in a district where more than a third of the school population was Mormon. I'm well aware of the fact that the Mormon church does not teach anything that specifically leads to a Biblical salvation experience. However, I did know Mormons who had, through their reading of the New Testament, been exposed to the gospel and who had been led by the Spirit as a result of what they had discerned for themselves in spite of what they were taught in church and had a genuine, born-again relationship with Christ. Understanding that new believers aren't mature believers, and that there are all kinds of social and family circumstances that play a major influence in someone's life related to their church involvement. I always prayed that God would eventually lead these young believers out of the Mormon church, but then, not being God, I have to conclude, from what the scripture teaches me, that he is sovereign and he knows what he is doing. God is God, and I am not.

President Carter has written, and spoken, volumes about his faith and his testimony to the work of the gospel of Jesus Christ in his own life, so much so, in fact, that the few words that I've seen quoted in blogs are not anywhere close to adequate to describe his personal beliefs. The fact of the matter is that, in everything he's written on the subject, and everything he's said about it, including words he spoke in my presence while teaching his Sunday School class at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, indicates to me that his beliefs are consistent with what 99% of the active members of Southern Baptist churches would believe. The problem is that too many Baptists have put their secular politics either in front of, or right beside, their expression of their faith and have linked the two together, so that they cannot reconcile Carter's being both a Baptist and a Democrat and, like the enemies of George W. Bush, have to find ways to twist his words to justify their anger and their personal judgement.

I could easily make a case, from a few of President Bush's statements, that he is a very consistent Methodist universalist who is both welcoming and affirming with regard to homosexuality in the church, if I only had to conform to the standards of critics of Carter that I've been reading on blogs in recent days. And in the case of Bill Clinton, I could use the same standards and make a case that many conservative Baptists believe in salvation by works, and not by grace through faith in Christ. I'd sure like to have the spiritual insight that some of my brethren seem to have in being able to look at someone's soul and know for sure what their spiritual condition is. It would save me a lot of time.

Wade, you're, as usual, right on target.

Baptist Theologue said...

Wade, you asked me for my thoughts on President Carter’s words. From “Sources of Strength” he said,

“ ‘Justified’ means that we are brought into a proper relationship with God, even though we have not merited this blessing because of our own character or good works. This seeming miracle is made possible by our faith, or trusting commitment to Christ and to God. Without this faith, we cannot be reconciled with God.” (89)

From this statement, I would think that at the time of writing, President Carter believed that the only adults going to heaven in this era are those who surrender their lives to Christ in repentance and faith. I like that position. From his more recent statements, however, I have my doubts about whether he still holds that position. As I said earlier, I wish he would very clearly state publicly what his current position is.

John Fariss, you said,

“You are probably right--he probably did understand the intent of the question. But does that mean he answered the intent of the question? Or that he felt an obligation to so answer it? Your presupposition, it seems to me, is that President Carter was being completely transparent in his answer. Transparency is a quality that I especially admire, and attempt to model. I am 54, and of the Baby Boomer Generation. Transparency seems especially important to those of us born since the end of World War II, although it is by no means a universal trait of any generation. I would suggest the possibility that between President Carter's generation and his vocation (politics), he felt no compulsion to be so completely transparent.”

I am 51, also of the Baby Boomer Generation. You could be correct in your assessment.

Debbie said...

Blackhawk: I think there is a post that Wade wrote(correct me if I am wrong Wade) mentioning a young man who came to Christ and had a t-shirt with a beer insignia on it. In fact he owned a collection of them obtained before his conversion. I don't know the location of the post but it would be worth your time to search and read it. That my friend is Phil. 1:6.

Debbie said...

Lee: You story portrays beautifully the power of the God of the Universe.

Debbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blackhaw66 said...

Debbie,

Okay. But I do not understand what you are trying to say to me or what I am sying that you do not like so you said that to me. Maybe I dense. I have been accused of that before.

I do not think that your example is the same as one being a mormon or continuing to be involved in a Mormon church even after some kind of conversion experience.

Debbie said...

Blackhawk: I realize that you do not understand and no, it's not because you are dense, but because I left out details. Read Lee's post and that would be close to what I am saying. I realize I sound mysterious without wanting to, but space requires such. Meanwhile I'll try to think how to clarify with few words and without writing a post on wade's blog. :)

blackhaw66 said...

Debbie and Lee,

I am a Republican I guess. Although I do not vote for a Republican just because they are Republican but because I think they are right. I would vote for a Democrat if I think they were more right than the Republican. So my concern with Carter and especially with some of the othes is not political at all. In fact I think Bush has not handled things very well. He should be criticized. I do not think the Democrats, especially Kerry or Gore, would do any better. Probably worse but that is not my point.

But as to 'outward labels' I think that Lee is wrong. Many, if not all, 'outward labels' mean something. When I say I am a Baptist or a Christian I am creating an outward label for myself and it means something.

I do not see any reason to believe one who says he is a Christian yet attends a Mormon church. I see no reason to believe that one is a Christian that believes the Mormon gospel is the true gospel. Even if Paul came himself and preached a different gospel than the one and only gospel I would not only disbelieve him but also label him as a nonChristian. Could there be someone who goes to the Mormon church and really beleives truth? Sure but first that would be far the exception rather than the rule. And second why would I want to state that that person is a Christian if they do not leave the LDS church? Why would I think they really believed the gospel if clearly they cannot detect a false one?

So 'outward labels' are important no matter what anyone has told you. And it is only because of Christian love that when I look at another I try and think if that person is a Christian or not. For if not then I need to tell them the most awesome love story of all time. I am sure Billy Graham thinks about who is a Christian or not when he does his work. If Billy does it then why can't we do it also? It is not meant to be mean but instead to be loving. How can I tell my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that I did not want ot judge another so I did not tell them about His love? I can't do that and I won't.

Colin said...
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Colin said...
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Lee said...

Sorry, Blackhawk, but I disagree with you in the strongest terms. I leave all of that up to a sovereign God. It isn't for me to judge, at least, not if I believe what Jesus taught in scripture. That doesn't mean I back away from sharing my faith. I don't need to know what their spiritual condition is, one way or the other, if I am relying on the Spirit at the prompting of a sovereign God.

The question here is the definition of a Baptist. Wade says that Baptists are nothing more, nothing less than New Testament Christians. I agree with that wholeheartedly. Being Baptist has nothing to do with being either Republican or Democrat, any more than it has to do with whether you believe Christians can exist within the LDS church.

The only biblical test I can find related to defining the gospel is Peter's confession of Christ in Matthew, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." It is repeated, in I John 4:13, in the command to test the spirits to see if they are from God, with those confessing Christ as Lord and Savior declared to be true. The same definition of the gospel is found in I Corinthians 15:3-8, the belief that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day victorious over sin and the grave. That's the gospel that makes you a Baptist.

Rather than nitpicking over a few of Jimmy Carter's words as to whether his beliefs make him a Baptist or not, we should be grieving over all of the people who sit in our pews who think they are genuine Baptists and Christians, but are not. Instead of spending time and energy trying to tear down something that someone else is doing, because we don't care for their definition of what a Baptist Christian is, we should be considering the millions right under our noses who are lost. It probably doesn't matter much to them which group of Baptists is more Baptist. I'm not sure it matters that much to me.

Bob Cleveland said...

Blackhaw66:

Indeed.

Unless, of course, you're wanting to go witnessing to them. Lacking something like that, who am I to judge another man's servant?

Emily said...

Something I think is rather humorous about the discussion on this thread and others is that it seems as though some actually think it is possible to confuse or conflate a "Wade Burleson kind of Baptist" and a "Jimmy Carter kind of Baptist." Or, that any of the conservative Southern Baptists participating in the NBC could be mistaken as being in agreement with Clinton, Carter, Moyers, et al on theology. This is preposterous. The whole point of a cooperative effort is that they won't be confused and they are not on the same page in everything. That's what makes it unique. That's the whole idea.

Southern Baptists have done a very good job of telling the world who they think is "in" and who they think is "out." I don't believe that anyone with a clue, whether in the NBC or observing in the NBC, will conclude that these pastors' participation in the NBC is a sign that Southern Baptists embrace Mormonism, inclusivism, or any other "ism" we're afraid to get near our spotless doctrinal purity (said with a little bit of sarcasm and a grin).

R. L. Vaughn said...

Lee you wrote, "The question here is the definition of a Baptist. Wade says that Baptists are nothing more, nothing less than New Testament Christians."

Amen! I agree wholeheartedly.

I guess that brings us to our next question, "Do we know what in the Sam Hill a New Testament Christian is?"

Paul Burleson said...

Emily,

I like the way you think. I like the way you speak with grace. I like the way you think biblical/divisive issues through to a connected conclusion. I'm glad you and I are brother and sister in the Kingdom family.

Lee said...

R.L.
:)

Emily:
That's about as good a description of the kind of cooperation that once defined Southern Baptists as I've heard in quite a while.

Debbie said...

Emily: I agree with Lee and Paul. :)

Emily said...

To Paul and Lee: Thanks. I don't always feel quite so welcomed among my Southern Baptist brothers and sisters, so your affirmation is an encouragement.

Hmmm... I wonder if Jimmy Carter feels the same way I do... :)

Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

Why have you not been allowed to serve on an IMB committee as a fellow Baptist serving as a trustee of the IMB, Southern Baptist Convention?

Wade Burleson said...

Mike,

I serve as a fully functioning trustee of the IMB on behalf of the SBC.

Mike said...

Wade, you said,

"I serve as a fully functioning trustee of the IMB on behalf of the SBC."

If you as a Baptist do not serve on a committee of the IMB, SBC you are not fully functioning.

If your Baptist chairman of deacons at Emmanuel, who has been set aside as deacon to serve the body of believers, was not allowed to attend committees within the Emmanuel deacon body, would he be considered a fully functioning deacon? I think not. Nor are you a fully functioning trustee of the IMB.

Why? What can be done to change the situation?

Wade Burleson said...

Mike,

No vote, no plenary meeting, no business can be conducted without me present. There is no need for me to serve on a committee.

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
A “Sam Hill” Baptist depends upon what time period.

A Baptist was never even close to ‘John the Baptist’ even though he believed in Jesus.

Baptists got their theology from Jesus as Paul and Peter UNDERSTOOD his teachings as revealed to them by the Holy Spirit. Paul said he conveyed not with flesh and blood, but Jesus told him what to say.

A dictionary printed in 1945 says a Baptist is “A member of a denomination of Christians who maintain that baptism should be administered to believers only. Nearly all Baptists hold that baptism should be by immersion only.”

A dictionary printed in 1990 (after the conservative resurgence) says a Baptist is, “A member of a PROTESTANT denomination practicing baptism of believers by immersion.”

My, my, how things change…how did Baptist become Protestants after 1945?

Then we believed Baptists started with Peter and Paul and were named Anabaptist before Catholics got their name. This was pretty well proven by the book “Trail of Blood” by J.M. Carroll in 1931.

But this “Trail of Blood” was a danger to Fundamentalists who set out to prove the Bible was inerrant.
They would not accept anyone but the ‘best’ to be the author of any book in the Bible.

They had to prove Jesus wrong in saying the Apostle John would drink of the cup that Jesus drank…that he would not be martyred but live to a ripe old age to write the 3 Johns in 90 A.D.

The “sons of thunder” were brothers; James and John. Jesus name them because they were bold.

Do not the bold die first? Since James was the first Apostle killed, would his brother be far behind?
It would not surprise me if John had shaken his fist in the King’s face and called fire from heaven. That could explain why history records John being killed by boiling oil. (Tradition has him not killed by the oil.)

Harper’s Bible Dictionary (copyright 1952) says, “Papias mentions two Johns, one the Apostle, the other an elder…It is possible that the…tradition of John the Apostle living in Ephesus was due to confusion to the elder with the Apostle. The second book of Papias says that James and John the sons of Zebedee were killed by the Jews…BEFORE 70 A.D.”

Why the “Trail of Blood” had to be discredited was because Carroll wrote, “Great churches began to claim authority over smaller churches…their many elders began to lord if over God’s heritage in 3 John 1:9.” (Page 2)

Did Carroll say the author of 3 John was the bad guy?

3 John 1:1, “From: John the Elder.” Verse 9, “…the leader of the Christians there, does not admit my authority over him and refuses to listen to me.” (Living Bible)

Since the Elder, said in verse 9, “I sent a brief letter to the church about this…”, it would seem the Elder’s job was to keep small Gentile churches in line with the thinking of ‘Jewish mother church’ (Jerusalem), and Carroll’s book is right on target.

Kaylor said...

Because a lot of inaccurate comments have been made about Jimmy Carter, I wrote a column for Ethics Daily that works to set the record straight: Jimmy Carter is not the Anti-Christ. I hope that this will help stop the false allegations about Carter and the Celebration.

Anonymous said...

VERY IMPORTANT. THIS STORY NEEDS TO BE TOLD.
Bill Underwood, one of the leaders of the “Covenant” meeting in Atlanta, has been a financial supporter of Planned Parenthood in Waco. Here's the proof:
http://www.prolifewaco.org/documents/Fool04FlyerOnePage.pdf

If you doubt the veracity of this, please contact Baylor professor, Dr. John Pisciotta, the director of Prolife Waco. His email is John_Pisciotta@Baylor.edu

Anonymous said...

Thank you for explaining Baptist concepts. Very easy to comprehend. My problem is that I cannot reconcile the SBC stance on torture as okayed by the Bush Administration as any kind of reasonable, humane, Christian, or Godly behavior. What kind of Baptist believes it's okay to torture prisoners. Very difficult to accept this as my grandmother was a faithful Baptist and she would have died of shock to find out about the SBC approval in March of 2007.