Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cooperation Does Not Mean a Lack of Conviction

There are a handful of blogs that I read for personal edification and continuing education. One of those is David Rogers' blog Love Each Stone. David is a Southern Baptist missionary to Spain. He and I were at Baylor University together in the early eighties and I have followed his family and missionary career ever since.

I constantly learn from David. He is one of the most gracious men you will ever meet - or read. He is always chaste in his speech, civil in his deportment, and everything about him is seasoned with grace. David exemplifies the finest of who Southern Baptists are and what Southern Baptists believe. Most people know that David is the son of the legendary Adrian Rogers, has been educated at our Southern Baptist universities and seminaries, and has faithfully served Christ on behalf of Southern Baptists in mission fields abroad for two decades.

Recently David and Malcolm Yarnell, a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, entered into an online debate over the importance of cooperation among Great Commission Christians. Malcolm Yarnell takes the position that the only true
Great Commission Christians are Baptists. Everyone else, including Methodists, Presbyterians, non-Baptist Congegrationalists, Reformed Churches, Assemblies of God, and other Christians are in 'unrepentant sin' (his words, not mine) and Baptists should not cooperate with them on the mission field or in any church planting endeavors.

David Rogers responds to Malcolm's views by brilliantly showing why Christians should never divide over "secondary matters" or "disputable matters." David's hypothetical illustration of the "Common Loaf Denomination" is one of the most precise and understandable Biblical rationales for cooperating with other non-Baptist Christians on the mission field and in kingdom work you will ever read.

Then, Dr. Yarnell responds to David. Please read the letter in its entirety. Below are a few of Dr. Yarnell's statements to David (quoted exactly), with my observations and commentary of Dr. Yarnell's words.
"David, if I were to make a guess, it would be this: you, my friend, are still searching out exactly what you believe in many of these matters! "
I have read every one of David's letters, and it is evident that David is rock solid in his beliefs on baptism, the Lord's Supper, ecclesiology, etc . . . Dr. Yarnell even mentions that David expresses his views clearly. I find the statement that David Rogers, a Southern Baptist educated, long term career missionary is "still searching" exactly what he believes on baptism, the Lord's supper, etc . . . a little patronizing.

"My fear is that you have been brought to a precarious position by some of the worrisome trends in modern missionary thought and practice. These worrisome trends include, among many others, a confusion as to what exactly constitutes a Great Commission Christian, the invention of a distinction between "Baptist" and "baptistic," the affirmation or denial of the perspicuity of Scripture, confusion as to what it really means to cooperate with other Christians, and lack of clarity regarding a Baptist hierarchy of values."
Since Dr. Yarnell is not with the IMB, I'm not sure if he knows that the mission and purpose statements of the International Mission Board, adopted by the trustees of the IMB and implemented on the mission fields around the world, define precisely what a Great Commission Christian is, affirms the perspicuity of Scripture, and lay out clearly the terms of cooperation with other Great Commission Christians while maintaining Baptist distinctives. Dr. Yarnell's remarks appear to be very similar to the letter sent by Drs. Keith Eitel and Paige Patterson to IMB trustees in 2003 which criticized the administration and missionary employees of the IMB for these very issues. The 2003 criticism was specifically and directly rejected four years ago by the IMB trustees.

In other words, David, let us be clear that on the basis of the long-standing Baptist interpretation of the Great Commission, the following groups specifically do not qualify to be called Great Commission Christians: Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians (and other Reformed Churches), Non-Baptist Congregationalists, Quakers, Methodists, Pentecostals, and Assemblies of God. I will not provide an exhaustive list, for that would require a dictionary, but suffice it to say that any other Christian group that believes or practices what these Christian denominations distinctively believe and practice may not be legitimately classified as Great Commission Christians, even if some of them may be classified as "evangelicals."
I would be very interested in knowing if Dr. Yarnell's list of illegimitate Great Commission Christians is given to the public at large as an official representative of SWBTS, or merely his personal opinion? I would assume it represents his personal opinion and I affirm his freedom to express it publicly. It illustrates very clearly the direction some would like to take our board.

The errors of these other Christian churches are why some Baptists are more than willing to refer to them as "unrepentant sinners." When you disobey Christ, you are a "sinner." When you refuse to change your ways, you are "unrepentant." Thus, those who refuse to repent from their disobedience of Christ are "unrepentant sinners." This terminology seems to rub evangelical ecumenists in an especially noticeable way, which is probably why some of us readily use it. It helps bring forward important issues that are being buried in the rush of some naïve and errant children of the free churches to convert to Azusa Street, Canterbury, Geneva, Rome, and Constantinople.
I will not comment on this paragraph. I believe it says enough on its own.

I wish to commend Malcolm Yarnell and David Rogers for this very informative dialogue. I respect both men, believe them to be very sincere brothers in Christ and have absolutely no problem in serving with either of them at the International Mission Board. I do believe that in David and Malcolm you have a very clear understanding of the tension and the give and take between two diametrically opposite ideological and missiological viewpoints. Whichever viewpoint ultimately prevails in the IMB and the SBC will determine the course of our future. The differing ideologies, in my opinion, are best illustrated in this cartoon sent to me by Art Rogers.


Anonymous said...

At Field Personnel Orientation we spend a good amount of time distinguishing between the different levels of cooperation, and a good amount of time defining the church. Dr. Tom Eliff leads the discussions pertaining to the definition of a church, and makes it very clear what a church is. These are the bullet points straight from his powerpoint notes. I believe they come directly from the IMB guidelines and definition of the church:

1. Church planting should be the focus of our efforts. First and foremost we are to be local church planters.

2. A church is intentional about being a church. The group knows it is not merely a fellowship or bible study.

3. The church has an identifiable membership of baptized believers in Jesus Christ.

4. A church submits to the inerrant word of God as the ultimate authority for everything they believe and do.

5. A church meets regularly for worship, prayer, the study of God's word, and fellowship

6. A church is autonomous and self-governing under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

7. A church practices the baptism of believers only by immersing them in water.

8. A church's members observe the Lord's supper on a regular basis.

9. A church has two biblical offices of leadership: pastor/elder/overseer and deacon.

10. A church has identifiable leaders.

11. The office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.

Of course we spent hours and hours studying and discussing each phrase so that everyone was clear as to the meaning of each point.

Personally, the best conversations came over meals with Dr. Eliff as he loved to join us in the cafeteria and discuss doctrine. If Dr. Yarnell is unclear that the IMB has a very strict standard in regards to planting Baptist churches, then he need to simply visit ILC during the doctrine sessions and I am confident his doubts will pass.

Furthermore, in regards to partnerships, we are clearly told the different levels of partnerships and that ultimately our most intimate partners can only be those who likewise intend to plant Baptist churches. We can partner for various projects all over the place, but the churches we plant must be Baptist. Since we are first and foremost church planters, and since we are planters of Baptist churches, partnerships with GCCs will only go so far. At the same time, I'm going to do whatever I can to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their projects in order to be the tool God has called me to be in bringing people into His Kingdom.

Although I personally disagree very strongly with the Landmarkist perspective offered by Dr. Yarnell, I thank God that our company's trustees come from a wide variety of background with diverse perspectives. Furthermore, I thank Him that churches back home are able to support our organization so that every missionary can have quality training by Godly leaders before coming to the field.

An Anonymous IMB Missionary

Anonymous said...

Just a few words about what (Anonymous said...) No.4
If God had though I needed an Inerrant, infallible, verbally inspired copy of the Bible, he would have preserved the original text on a Golden Tablet.
God has not left me without anything necessary for my salvation. We may use all of the strong language we want about the original autograph of the Bible, but my faith can survive with the Holy Scripture available to me today.

Anonymous said...

Wade, et al.,

I'm not exactly a new kid on the block. I was at Southwestern when the "Boyd Hunt" tapes were recorded.

I had thought the "Church of Christ" mind-set ("you are lost unless you are an active, Lord's Supper receiving Church of Christ member") which I grew up with in SE Oklahoma was dead.

Apparently I'm wrong. It has just changed denominations and has had a few inflections added.

Gary from Norman

Bob Cleveland said...

From the same source that brought you "Don't vote for the Integrity in Church Membership motion because it doesn't deal with regenerate membership, too"; i.e.: let's keep on lying about numbers.


greg.w.h said...

Wow...Malcolm certainly is putting the "stink" in "di-stink-tive".

Greg Harvey

John Daly said...

I would like to make one point in regard to the denominations that fail to qualify on Dr. Yarnell's Great Commission Christian list. It is with the strongest and most fervent of prayers that I hope that our Lord’s missionaries are NOT partnering with Rome in “evangelizing.” The hills on which I die are really not many in number and I don’t desire to go to battle over tertiary doctrines. Here, however, we are taking about the Gospel—the very essence of how we become right with God. There is no hostility or animosity in these words, just a simple, humble desire to defend the Biblical Gospel.

Wade, it would warm my Reformed Baptist heart to read that you too agree that Rome is in need of the Gospel and not that they are partners in sharing it.

Anonymous said...


You wrote:
"I have read every one of David's letters, and it is evident that David is rock solid in his beliefs on baptism, the Lord's Supper, ecclesiology, etc . . ."

I have nothing against Bro. David personally. However in his own words here are his views on this subject:

"Regarding my own theological positions, it would be unwieldy to go into much depth here, though I believe the salient matters have been treated a bit more fully at one place or another on this blog throughout the course of the past months. In summary, I am in full agreement with the Baptist Faith & Message 2,000, with the exception of one statement in the section on baptism which would seem to advocate "closed communion." I am also convinced that the Scripture teaches a "continualist" approach to spiritual gifts, which includes the possibility of what many call a "private prayer language." While I certainly believe in the local church, I also see an emphasis on the Universal Church in the New Testament in places that I understand many Baptists see more of an emphasis on the local church. I also see no need to consider as invalid the immersion of a sincere believer due to concerns over the doctrinal position of the administrator of the baptism or the administrating church." David Rogers

In my neck of the woods this is not rock solid. And from a historic Southern Baptist viewpoint this is definitely not rock solid.

Bob Cleveland said...

On reflection, I think that the many years of a lofty view of our "denomination" are beginning to show. Those exalted views have wormed their way into the teaching and preaching, and the structure itself, and I think now we're reaping the harvest.

"The largest protestant denomination, 16 million strong".

"The crown jewel in God's outreach plans to evangelize the world."

No wonder God is moving to correct it.

That, however, is just a view from the pew.

Rex Ray said...

Wade…good post.

It’s clear when David Rogers was rejected from being elected vice president of the SBC; they did not want a free thinker but wanted ‘one of us.’

For someone to be free scares them. That’s why they added an “S” to “believer” in the BFM 2000.

They believe as Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary who said, “Conservatives believe in the priesthood of the believerS but not the priesthood of the believer, because it leaves too much freedom for the individual…conservatives are the party of truth while the moderates are the party of freedom.”

Mohler’s statement contradicts Christ when Jesus said, You shall know the TRUTH and the TRUTH will set you FREE.
A party without freedom is a party without truth, and a party without truth will not have much cooperation.

It’s like Bob Cleveland said if he wanted to change Baptists, he would start in the seminaries of teaching the preachers who would in turn teach the people.

That’s what shown in the IMB missionary 11 statements of what a church is. Some of the fallacy in the statements is revealed by combining #11 with #6:

“A church is autonomous and self-governing under the Lordship of Jesus Christ [EXCEPT] the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” [THEIR INTERPRETATION]

So, are churches under the “Lordship of Jesus Christ” or under the lordship of the BFM?

I suppose if they can substitute the Bible with their BFM as our doctrinal guideline, they can substitute themselves as Jesus.

Jesus warned: “Teaching as doctrine the commands of men.” (Matthew 15:9)

Steve said...

Some would relate that the classic Russian view held that, "If you're different from me, you're not cultured." The American version held that, "If you're different from me, you're not educated or busy enough."

We have come so far now that Dr. Yarnell sounds as if he'd say, "If you're any different from me, you're headed straight to Hades." How very Catholic of him; How very Islamist of him. How sad.

Writer said...


I am very distressed by Dr. Yarnell's position that "the only true Great Commission Christians are Baptists. Everyone else, including Methodists, Presbyterians, non-Baptist Congegrationalists, Reformed Churches, Assemblies of God, and other Christians are in 'unrepentant sin' (his words, not mine) and Baptists should not cooperate with them on the mission field or in any church planting endeavors."

I have been a Southern Baptist all my life (56 years) and I have NEVER been taught this position. I attended SWBTS in 90's when the venerable Ken Hemphill was president and I NEVER heard any professor take such a position.

This sort of separatist position sounds more like the independent Baptist folks around here than Southern Baptists.

If this is the direction of the SBC, I fear for our future. The arrogance of saying that we or anyone else are the only "true" believers boggles my mind. It also reminds me more of cult-like verbage rather than orthodox Christian doctrine.

Are Dr. Yarnell's separtist views typical of the current leadership of SWBTS? As an alumnus I would like to know.

Is this view prevalent across our other seminaries and entities and agencies? If it is, then the SBC needs fervent prayer NOW!

I'm afraid that we have met the Pharisee and he is us. When did this happen?

In extreme distress,


Alyce Faulkner said...

I agree Les.
The Pope said:
"Pope Benedict XVI has reasserted the universal primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released Tuesday that says Orthodox churches were defective and that other Christian denominations were not true churches."
It sounds like some Southern Baptist see things through this same lense.
How very sad.

art rogers said...

Credit where credit is due - though no one seems to be worried too much about the cartoon.

I saw it at Monday Morning Insight, written by Todd Rhodes.

art rogers said...


I think you can take your observation a step further.

If it is true that only Southern Baptists that are capable of being in right standing with God (note that not all are necessarily in right standing) how long until only certain Southern Baptists are capable of being in right standing with God?

You already have your answer, of course. We have passed that point with certain leaders and it against such a stance that many of us have worked...

that we might cease the "narrowing of parameters of cooperation."

Do we see how this mindset has already worked its way through key leadership and threatens to tear the SBC apart?

We will, in the end, have a very self secure, uncooperative, small and ineffective SBC.

Gary from Norman is pretty accurate in his comparison (#3)

Anonymous said...

As a year 2000 graduate of SEBTS, I am distressed by Dr. Yarnell's views. Does he realize how arrogant he sounds? And we thought Landmarkism was dead?

What is Dr. Yarnell going to think of heaven? I imagine it is going to be a shocking place to him with all of these "unrepenant" non-Baptists running around.

This is one reason I have left the SBC probably never to return.

Anonymous said...

I would like to encourage everyone to go and actually read Dr. Yarnell's words and comments to blog questions instead of reading the cut and paste job (and the following commentary) by WB.

I might disagree with some of Dr. Yarnell's conclusions but he does a much better job of expressing himself (and should be allowed that right since they are his words) than anyone else can.

david b mclaughlin said...

As someone who is not neck deep in SBC-ism can someone point me to an explanation of "landmarkism"?

Blackhaw said...

There have been some overly harsh words about Dr. Yarnell on this comment thread. I wonder if some of the posters have even read the full letter of Dr. Yarnell and the comments to it over on the other board.

while I do not agree with Dr. Yarnell on some major points I do respect his opinion and believe that he has logically summed up his opinion very well in his letters.

One concern I have is the use of the Great Commission as a statement of order. I do not think Christ was saying first do this then this then this etc.. I think some things he said naturally flow from one to the other but I do not think it is the point of the passage to state an order of actions.

However if one does believe that the GC does argue for an order then I can see his concerns. I think he did expose David Rogers in a point where he was a little contradictory. (At least how it was written was contradictory) And I think I can say that since David Rogers was replying to me over on Micah's blog. I am not saying Rogers thought is contradictory just that it seems to be in view of his response to me and what he has said before.

But the main point I want to make is that I do not see that Baptists historically speaking can move away (although it has preactically been done for awhile now) from a position like Dr. Yarnell is suggesting. Respectfully I think that in David Roger's position one has to downplay Baptism considerably. And Baptism is one of the key ordinances or sacraments of scripture. But Baptist churches have often doen this by "strongly suggesting" someone to be baptised instead of making it a mandate. Dr. Bingham at DTS also has problems with denominations that seem to only strongly suggest baptism while Jesus commanded it. He has stated that if one wants to be considered part of the church then one has to be baptised. One can be a lone evangelical (and thus technically saved) but not part of the church.

Anyways can anyone tell me how a member of an SBC church (assumming they believe what the SBC does) can fellowship with infant baptizers while retaining a high view of believers only baptism? What is infant baptism? Is it a baptism? If not then how are those who are just baptised as infants not living in sin because they have not been baptised? ANd how can those who practice it not be living in sin because of their rejection of true baptism?


Kevin Bussey said...


That kind of thinking makes me sick. It is pure arrogance! My parents are PCA and work for Campus Crusade's military ministry. They personally led over 150 soldiers to Christ last year. I'm done with even reading this trash.

If that is what SBC is becoming then count me out.

Aaron New said...

I'm going to leave it to someone else to elaborate (since I'm not an expert on Baptist history). But VERY briefly...

Landmarkists believe that Baptist churches are the only "true" and "Scriptural" churches.

Landmarkists believe that you can trace these true churches back to the original apostolic church.

Landmarkists believe that any baptism, ordination, or service done outside the authority of a Baptist church is illegitimate.

I'm positive others can provide more detailed and accurate information (as well as more background on the development of Landmarkism). But I think that's it in a nutshell.


Pamela said...

I'm not a member of the SBC and never will be at this point.

I must admit that I stopped reading when Yarnell was quoted as saying that those other than Baptists are guilty of unrepentant sin. That is amazing to me.

First of all the most important thing to Christ is to have an intimate relationship with him. The Bible quotes Jesus as saying we can do a lot of good works in His name and still hear from Him, "depart I never knew you".

I'm not saying that we should not reach those for Christ. I also agree that Baptists are very diligent and organized in their efforts. HOWEVER just because efforts from other groups are not as organized DOES NOT MEAN that people in these other groups are not participating in the Great Commission. He does not know what I or others he has no contact with do to share our faith. That is a very unfair, judgmental statement for any CHRISTIAN to make about another believer.

david b mclaughlin said...

Thanks Aaron.

That's scary.


J.D. Rector said...

Wade and others:

I read Dr. Yarnell's entire comments. Comments such as :... "the only true Great Commission Christians are Baptists..." are the epitomy of pride, arrogance, and cult-like mentality. I was reared in Northeast Alabama where I had to listen to fellow classmates in public school who were members of the Church of Christ proclaim such exclusivism as well.

It is such a paradox to speak of "unrepentant sinners" who are not Baptists and yet he teaches at a seminary that openly welcomes believers... or forgive me, as he says, "unrepentant sinner-students" of other denominations.

Can someone tell Dr. Yarnell what ICHABOD means?!?

One who is praying for revival in his own life, church and yes, my denomination. How we deserately need it!!

J.D. Rector

J.D. Rector said...

Wade and others:

I read Dr. Yarnell's entire comments. Comments such as :... "the only true Great Commission Christians are Baptists..." are the epitomy of pride, arrogance, and cult-like mentality. I was reared in Northeast Alabama where I had to listen to fellow classmates in public school who were members of the Church of Christ proclaim such exclusivism as well.

It is such a paradox to speak of "unrepentant sinners" who are not Baptists and yet he teaches at a seminary that openly welcomes believers... or forgive me, as he says, "unrepentant sinner-students" of other denominations.

Can someone tell Dr. Yarnell what ICHABOD means?!?

One who is praying for revival in his own life, church and yes, my denomination. How we desperately need it!!

J.D. Rector

Wayne Smith said...

All Brothers and Sisters in CHRIST,

I have a very heavy Heart for those who are under Pressure to please Man, instead of Our Lord and Savior.
Where does this Pressure come from? This morning my wife pointed out something that was given to her in Revelation in her morning quiet time.
Pease read John Chap 6 and see how it speaks to you. Please, Let me know what was revealed to you

Ask yourself, do you have Heart Knowledge of Head Knowledge. The Holy Spirit Circumcises the Heart and sets you Free when you are Born From Above.
1Co 8:1 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that "all of us possess knowledge." This "knowledge" puffs up, but love builds up.

In His Name

GeneMBridges said...

A. Some members of those churches full of "unrepentant sinners" distinguish between kinds and degrees of error - but if he wants to go there, I can produce very recent comments from an otherwise orthodox Christian on my blog and at one Baptist scholar at Truett lately that, when you read them, are actually quite convertible with atheism. Are they atheists? No, but you wouldn't know it from what they had to say. Which is the worse error?

B. These "evangelicals" like my Presbyterian bretheren would look at Dr. Yarnell's apparent affirmations of libertarian freedom and denial of the doctrines of grace as a greater error than infant baptism - for the simple reason that in affirming Sola Fide, he denies Sola Gratia. There is far more regarding the doctrines of grace in Scripture than baptism. The Baptist argument for believer's baptism is based in part on what we affirm from Hebrews on the New Covenant, but it is also based on examples in the NT, not commands.

C. And the specific historic Baptist position on that issue involves covenant theology - a position dare I say most Southern Baptists deny today.

D. By the way Presbyterians do happen to practice believers baptism. Infant baptism is not the only baptism they practice. This regularly gets overlooked. On the mission field, they are often practicing believers baptism, since they are often sharing the gospel with unbaptized "heathen." Many won't accept infant baptisms from Rome too boot.

E. And Presbyterians on the mission field would largely be ordained ministers. It's nice to see that Dr. Yarnell differs with Dr. Dagg over whether or not they are true ministers of the gospel - for to deny that they are "Great Commission Christians" is to deny they are true ministers.

F. Oh, and for the record, I partake of the Lord's Table on Sunday nights - as many as I can - with the "hippy Calvinists" at a local PCA church, since my church doesn't have an evening service and most Baptists are content to meet their Lord @ His Table once a quarter. That's one reason I maintain my high view of baptism and still fellowship with them. The TE there knows full well that I'm a Reformed Baptist. In fact, the PCA allows their members to, shock - horror, disaffirm infant baptism. Yes, you don't even have to be a Calvinist to join them. I know, it's shocking, isn't it?! The people that have to affirm infant baptism and be Calvinists are the deacons and elders - the people that govern the church and teach the church. Another reason so many Baptists can retain their high view of baptism and still fellowship with Presbyterians is that the Presby's hold to the doctrines of grace while many Baptists who do are made to feel like aliens in their own churches and denomination. To disfellowship over the sacraments would also seem to be an implicit move toward sacramentalism on the part of Baptists who would disfellowship over the sacraments and not over doctrines (like soteriology) that would more directly affect the gospel itself. Which is the higher order doctrine - soteriology or sacramentology? I know - for those who have predilections with the Church Fathers that may be a bit difficult to understand...

Many of members of that denomination, including two prominent ones at that church, were once Southern Baptist. In this particular church, one of them was a deacon at the largest SBC church in my area and the other was a staff member. I do not believe that the staff member has somehow disaffirmed believers baptism, rather he's in charge of their missions program. As much material on reaching the nations as litters the halls and walls of this church, you would think that you were at the IMB HQ in Richmond to walk into the door. Wade, if you are ever in town, you are invited to visit there with me. For Brother David, this church is a common loaf church too.

Blackhaw said...

I wrote a long post but it did not go through. I will not write it out again but my basic questions )which I think is one of the basic questions of this debate) is when does ignorance or nonbelief of true doctrine become sin? Surely it does at some point but not in all points (maybe to the latter). But when does it? I really want to know. I am not sure myself.


Anonymous said...

Until Baptists are in the position where it is undisputed that our focus is on the main thing and not locked in on side issues, I would be reluctant to point the finger at any of the named denominations, disqualifying them. What a dangerous thing to do. Romans 14.

Wayne Smith said...

Gene Bridges,

The PCA Reformed Church also will Baptize in a swimming pool if requested. All to the Glory of God.

In His Name

DC said...

I don't think I would have believed it if I had not read for myself the words of Dr. Yarnell.

"unrepentant sinners...and the only true Great Commission Christians..."

It is good that Dr. Yarnell and David have entered into this dialogue, for it shows the clear distinction in two very different views toward cooperation and partnership in planting churches and doing mission for Southern Baptists.

Not all of my comments are related specifically to Dr. Yarnells' views, but they just helped to put me over the top of this current rise of fundamentalism in SBC circles.

I have grown so weary of the high browed, arrogant potshots taken toward by SBC leaders and pastors on their blogs and local church websites toward other denominations and pastors.

In some cases, it seems that this is all these guys can do is criticize and run down men like Andy Stanley, Rick Warren, and others.

When a man has to try to elevate himself or his church or ministry by attacking others, he's lost my respect. In my view, he's not helpful to Kingdom work.

It's no longer a question of when will we start losing potentially great future leaders in the SBC, we are losing them now. And unfortunately the ideaology that Dr. Yarnell holds to is running them off in great numbers.

Alyce Faulkner said...

Darren, I didn't read it 'cut and paste' second hand either.
Today, I talked to my pastor about it and my pastor shook his head and no, surely not. He couldn't believe it.
Alas, it's true.

Blackhaw said...

I find all those who are attacking Dr. Yarnell and using terms like legalist, arrogance, etc. interesting since David Rogers had this to say on his blog about saying those types of things.

"While, on one part, I realize Malcolm is "big enough to defend himself," . . . and also "for the record," I want to make clear that I personally refrain from endorsing any claim of arrogance on Malcolm's part. I believe that he stands before the Lord, and we cannot see the intentions of his heart.

He has also said to not call Dr. Yarnell a legalist. Interesting.

David Rogers said...


Regarding your earlier comment on those who have only had "infant baptism" living in sin: Would you also agree that those who continue taking the Lord's Supper with individual wafers are also "living in sin"? Why or why not?

Anonymous said...

As a 30's something IMB missionary and one about to enter seminary, can someone tell me what seminary Dr. Yar teaches at so I will know where NOT to go?!!

WOW! This is absurdity at it's evil worst. I am inclined to say I would prefer not to be one of the elect if it means there are only arrogant Baptists there.

(By the way, I know I could google Dr. Yar and get my answer...but then my point would be lost, wouldn't it.)

Blackhaw said...


1st I want to say that I am sorry I did not get back to you on Micah's blog. I got very busy. I issued a reply today but I know it is very late. (at least in blog world time).

2nd I do not necessarily agree with Dr. Yarnell. My posts just state that if one believes in historic Baptist theology then Dr. Yarnell's answers seem to be logically consistent. Also that if you take some points of his as givens then he makes good points. I just want to make that point clear.

3rd I do not see the importance of the one loaf symbolism as important as when one is baptized. At least I do not see it as important as whether one is a believer before or after one is baptized.

4th I would say no to your question but I am not completely sure. Is it a sin if one is wrong about some points of his theology? I guess. But then we all are guilty of that. But since I do not think that using one loaf is of the same importance as pre or post believer's baptism then I guess I would not use that phrase to describe them.

5th I think that phrase is a little harsh. Maybe there is a better phrase that still reflects the same thing but is not so harsh. I think Dr. Yarnell is not trying to throw Presbyterians, Anglicans and others under the bus. But I think his language might be too harsh compared to what he wants to say about them. That is my feeling afer reading some of his replies to you.

I hope I answered your question.


Kevin Bussey said...

Let's cut to the chase then...

Are my parents who are PCA members and work for Campus Crusade living in sin?

david b mclaughlin said...

Are my parents who are PCA members and work for Campus Crusade living in sin?


I dont know. Are they married?

Just kidding! Just trying to insert a little humor into the discussion.


greg.w.h said...

Ignore the wafer. What about the wine?


Dave Miller said...

I disagree with Malcom Yarnell strongly. However, those who are offended at his beliefs should also read his responses in the comment stream on that site.

He is attacked pretty personally in several comments. He responds with a level of humility and graciousness that is admirable.

That does not make his position any more palatable to me. But it does tell me that this man I disagree with is a man of godly character.

I have never read someone I disagreed with so strongly, then come away with such respect for him as I did on that blog.

May his (and David Rogers') spirit of humility spread through the blogging community.

Anonymous said...

To the first writer ("An Anon IMB Missionary"):

I do not disagree at all with you in what ILC teaches our new personnel. I have not been there in nearly 20 years. However, I was on stateside conference last summer at ILC. During a panel Q&A of several our IMB VP's someone asked them to "define church" for us. None could do it. They ended up having to "send out" for a copy of the "new policy/definition." I'm glad to know we have come such a long way doctrinally (?) in the last year! Although I do not disagree with anything you've written, I do want to point out it has not "always" been this way at the good ole IMB, ILC. No one was able to share a phrase of the definition let alone discuss every line. (Maybe Dr. Eliff should have been there last summer?)

Another anon. IMB Missionary

Scott Shaffer said...


I understand that most groups that adhere to the Westminters Confession (Presbyterian and others) would say that credobaptists are in sin for not baptizing their babies. Consider this quote from the Westminster Confession:

IV. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ,[11] but also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized.[12]

V. Although it is a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance,[13] yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it:[14] or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.[15]

Kevin Bussey said...

Who is attacking Dr. Y personally? I'm offended that someone teaching at my seminary and is getting money from my church says that my whole upbringing is "sinful."

Debbie Kaufman said...

Scott S.: That still doesn't give cause to us calling them unrepentant sinners. We are either people of the Bible as the final authority or we are not. Just saying we are doesn't make it so. It has to be lived.

Bob Cleveland said...

I'd like to tell Dr. Yarnell personally, face to face, that in 32 years of living in Birmingham (the buckle of the bible belt or some other cute phrase), EVERY SINGLE TIME someone has asked me "If you were to die tonight, do you know where you'd spend eternity?" .. EVERY TIME .. it was a Presbyterian Church member. NEVER a Baptist.

So we're the only "great commission" churches around? Say ... how's THAT working? Guess it doesn't mean what I thought it meant.

DL said...

At one seminary we have "historic southern baptist viewpoint" and in another seminary we have "together for the gospel." What a diverse bunch - the sbc!

Debbie Kaufman said...

Darby: That's the point, we are diverse. It's what happens when you have church autonomy, which is why it would be impossible to promote just one view as the official SBC view.

DL said...


Please do not use one of my foundational baptist tenets against me. :)

Yes, each local church is autonomous. I'm just the one who gets to decide what qualifies as a local church! Isn't that convenient?

Debbie Kaufman said...


Anonymous said...


No, your parents aren't living in sin; they appear to be Great Commission Christians who together and by themselves probably are the most evangelistic relatives among all of those reading this blog--including those of seminary professors.

The SBC is what it is, folks: simply a resource--one huge (now) complicated (now) resource which God has blessed over the decades--that my church provides itself via its CP dollars for positively affecting its strategic and evangelistic ministry to this world. Period. The SBC's employees (EC, SWBTS, or etc.--and those of our state Baptist convention and local association) are servants to my church--which is a servant of God to the world for the gospel. We all should cease relating to the huge, complicated SBC as something it isn't and start relating to it as what it is--demanding (for lack of a better term--but pretty close!) the resources and directing the resources needed for effective ministry. If the SBC's employees can't come through with that, then some of us can form a new network--no less "Great Commission Christian", no less effective (at least, in the SBC's better days), and eventually no less well-funded. Read the headlines at CNN and Foxnews--how can we do any less or wait any longer if the SBC is stuck on high-center to stay?

That's all.

Bob Cleveland said...

Dr. Yarnell's position seems to be:

A) God has told me, and I understand, how everyone is to behave in these matters.

B) God has NOT told them how to behave in those matters. Therefore they are wrong and in sin.

C) The SBC, or churches who agree with me on these matters, are the only ones God would want to use, to reach people for Jesus.

D) I know what SBC folks should believe and how they should behave. All of them. With whom they should and should not cooperate.

E) We know the only definition of a "great commission church". All others are wrong.

F) If you don't believe as I do, you are still searching for what you really believe.

At least that's what it looks like to me.

Anonymous said...

Bob -

He won't like that analysis.

But it's accurate.



Scott Shaffer said...


In response to my comment you wrote, That still doesn't give cause to us calling them unrepentant sinners. We are either people of the Bible as the final authority or we are not. Just saying we are doesn't make it so. It has to be lived.

My point is that people on both sides of the issue claim the other is in sin. Many who posted expressed shock that a credobaptist would call a paedobaptist a sinner, yet paedobaptists level the same charge against credobaptists.

I am confused by your statement, We are either people of the Bible as the final authority or we are not. It seems to me that such a statement lends credence to identifying a practice as sin when it violates the clear teachinig of scripture.

Rex Ray said...

After reading all of Malcolm Yarnell’s debate, I came away with a little different point of view.

I FEEL he went wrong when he described non-Baptist as “unrepentant sinners”. He should have called them as Paul did; “weaker brothers.”

“Weaker brothers” in Paul’s day were those who thought they were the best Christians because they obeyed all the laws of Moses etc.
They invaded ‘Paul’s Gentile churches’ to teach them their man-made doctrine. They were known as the ‘party of the Pharisees’ at the first church counsel.
Their howl was much like ‘if you don’t believe the Bible as we do, you’re a non-bible believer.’ (Does that have a familiar ring today from fundamentalists?)

Paul and Peter tried to change the thinking of these Christian Pharisees, but Paul was informed of loosing the battle: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are who have believed, and they are ALL zealous for the law.” (Acts 21:20)

The “weaker brothers” started baptizing babies for salvation in 251 AD that caused the minority (Paul’s followers) to withdraw from them. This small group was given the hated name “Anabaptist.”

They were never part of the “weaker brothers” who were named Catholic in 313 AD, and that is why Baptists are NOT Protestants today.

david b mclaughlin said...

Is the history you laid out inferring what some are calling landmarkism?

Genuine question. I don't know.

Scott Shaffer said...

I'd like to attempt to summarize Dr. Yarnell's argument with two syllogisms.

I. Great Commission Church

1. The Great Commission, commanded by Christ, describes what we are to do, and how we are to do it. Specifically, he commands us to baptize disciples by immersion.

2. Many churches baptize unregenerate infants.

3. Therfore, churches who practice #2 are not fulfilling the Great Commission (#1). Or, in Dr. Yarnell's terminology, they are not Great Commission churches.

II. Unrepentant Sin

1. Baptism of disciples by immersion is clearly commanded in Scripture.

2. Continued disobedience of Christ's commands, wilfully or through ignorance or theological error, is unrepentant sin.

3. Therefore, those who don't baptize disciples by immersion are unrepentant sinners.

I think this captures at least those two aspects of his dialog with David Rogers. If I've misrepresented his argument, please correct me.

My question is, which of the above premises do you disagree with and why?

DC said...


Those positions that Dr. Yarnell has taken are also my positions that I take personally and the same positions that I lead out with in the local church where I serve. I believe that NT baptism is for the believer. I believe that part of the GC command is to baptize new believers who believe the Gospel, repent of personal sin, and profess faith in Christ.

But bro, what about my Presbyterian friends who love the Gospel, believe in inerrancy, and yet interpret NT differently? If their interpretation is different than mine, am I to say that they are in unrepentant sin? No. Sure, they are not Baptist. But they are my brother, and co laborer for the cause of Christ.

I personally believe that cessationsist teaching stems from a very weak Biblical argument and has in fact weakened the church that holds to that teaching. But will I say that my brother who holds to cessationism is living in unrepentant sin, because his interpretation is different than mine? Absolutely not!

There are core doctrines of orthodox faith and then there are matters where the local church is going to disagree; and the extent of partnership in doing mission is parallel with the extent of our agreement in doctrine.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin Bussey,
No, I don't think your parents are living in unrepentant sin. But I do think they are sincerely mistaken about what baptism is. And that baptism is a command of the Lord.

However, since they are PCA, they adhere to the Westminster Confession, which implies rather strongly that you and I are unrepentant sinners for not baptizing our infants.

If Dr. Yarnell is "Landmarker", then on this issue Landmarkers actually agree with the Presbyterians in that not being properly baptized is unrepentant sin.

Gene Bridges might find that many conservative Reformed churches see Reformed Baptist as an oxymoron. They tie their view of baptism so strongly into their overarching principle of covenant. They kind of look down on "Reformed" Baptists who think they can pick and choose from the totality of confessional Reformed thought.

Anonymous said...

I was unclear in my last comment. I am sure Kevin's parents do realize baptism is a command of the Lord. I meant that it is not something to take lightly by any of us.

Scott Shaffer said...


Don't misunderstand me, I'm not defending Dr. Yarnell's view.

So, from your comments am I correct in saying you disagree with premise #2 in the Unrepentant Sin syllogism?

You mention that you wouldn't call our Presbyterian brothers unrepentant sinners. Would you concede that they are in fact sinning when they baptize infants?

Paul Burleson said...


I think I would call them "unrepentant saints" if I called them anything, and I think I would prefer to refrain from calling them anything. That's what Paul did with the Christians in Corinthians who had some sin issues themselves. He addressed himself to "all the Saints in Corinth" and then refered to many people who had problems which included their pride over baptism at the hands of various people. Since the purpose of baptism is to portray our indentification with Christ and not the baptizer, they had messed up the docrine of baptism to a degree. But they were still saints unless baptism does something I don't know anything about from the scripture.

By your reasoning I would call one who did not hold to the doctrines of Grace [all five points] as I understand them, [perhaps even you?] an "unrepentant saint" as well.

But I don't think an unbelief/ignorance one way or the other about baptism OR some of the doctrines of Grace I hold to qualifies as the issue that says whether they are a saint or not scripturally. [Thus my choice to not call them sinners] Only naming Jesus as Lord through repentance and faith qualifies as the reason one is called a saint. [Because in the scripture all who are new in Christ are called saints. When Paul said of himself that he was the "chief of sinners" it is in the aorist tense speaking of his past life before conversion. He was now something different, A saint.]

Maybe it might be wise for us to know what we believe about baptism or the doctrines of Grace and preach/teach that faithfully while loving other saints where they are [assuming you don't believe in a Baptist only Bride] since we're not their Lord. He is their Lord so we can leave judging where they are as to unrepentance over sin to Him since He's the only one who really knows their heart and is the one to whom they will answer.

There are plenty of clear issues of sin that we might be better off dealing with as Christians. How about immorality, drunkeness, [like the corinthian saints] and pride, condemnation of others, and rejection of people who are different. [like the pharisees]

I think, at the very most, "unrepentant saint whom I love and will fellowship with in sharing the gospel trusting the Lord to give understanding in His time, might be better.

Just my thoughts on it.

Debbie Kaufman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott Shaffer said...


What assessment are you referring to?

DC said...


As to premise #2, here's what I would say...

"So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." James 4:17 ESV

When my Presbyterian brothers baptize infants, obviously they believe they are doing the right thing, the Biblical thing. Do I disagree with them, yes... will I say that I think they are in sin, no. I'll leave that one to my Father.

Debbie Kaufman said...

And you would be wrong in your comment to me based on the same reasons Paul Burleson gave.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Sorry Scott we must have been posting at the same time. I didn't think I was clear.......evidently I was right based on your last comment to me. :)

John Daly said...

Karen in Okie,

That is an interesting point about Reformed Baptist being an oxymoron. Kind of like a short sleeve dress shirt :) However, if I simply say Baptist, well that could mean literally dozens of different things. I wonder what other term might apply so as not to offend my Presbyterian brethren? A Doctrines of Grace Baptist, or perhaps a 5 Sola Baptist? There are Sovereign Grace Baptists, I suppose that would suffice. I do not wish to hijack the word Reformed from its original intent. And I don’t mind if someone calls me an unrepentant sinner because more often than not…they are right.

I really do wish we would take this energy and share the essentials with those who belong to Salt Lake City, Brooklyn, Rome, etc.

Scott Shaffer said...


Thanks for your comments.

Please understand that what I presented was not "my reasoning", but what I understood to be Dr. Yarnell's.

Like you, I am uncomfortable calling a paedobaptist an unrepentant sinner. Although I confess that "unrepentant saint" simply seems to skirt the issue. Also, at first glance I see a distinction between disobeying a command and being wrong about a finer point of theology such as particular redemption (although I hold to all 5 points). I'd have to think some more about this though.

I recall a conversation I had with a good friend who holds to paedobaptism. He told me that my view and practice of baptism was unbiblical. He didn't use the word sin, but the effect was the same.

Thanks again for your comment.

Scott Shaffer said...


Thanks for answering the question. Better yet, thanks for answering with Scripture!

Debbie, I'm still confused about what you mean, so forgive me for not responding.

david b mclaughlin said...

Side question-

Does the BFM endorse 5 point Calvinism?

What % of the SBC identify themselves as 5 Point Calvinists?

PS-Paul B., You are a wise man. I like you.

David Mc
Learning More About the SBC on this blog than I ever dreamed.

Bennett Willis said...

Having read some of the "confession" of the reformed Baptist group (1689) I find the discussion about baptism especially interesting. We bicker about baptism (which does not change the way that we live on a daily basis and is not necessary for salvation) and ignore the doctrine on the elect which clearly can change the way we behave in our Christian walk.

Elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who works when and where and how He pleases. The same is true of all elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called through the preaching of the gospel.

Men who are not elected, even though they may be called upon to embrace salvation by the preachers of the gospel, and may be the subjects of some common operations of the Spirit, cannot be saved.

This seems like a speck vs. log issue to me. Or have I missed it and the elect has become a Baptist doctrine?

Bennett Willis

Paul Burleson said...


I appreciate your spirit in your response to what I said. I wish to demonstrate your same good sprit while continuing to disagree with your thoughts.

I don't think to attempt to reflect on the way the Apostles [Paul} handled a difficult situation [Corinthians] would qualify as "skirting the issue". That MAY be uncovering the GREATER issue.

If the mode of baptism is as clear as you seem to indicate, [and I do hold to immersion as the proper mode, it still would not rise to the justification of calling one who believes otherwise an "unrepentant sinner" if the scripture indicates that would be tantamount to saying they are lost. [Which would be the case if my premise [saints/sinners] in the last comment is correct.] You can see why I don't think I'm skirting at all.

By the way, if we hold to the Lord's supper as the other ordinance, and I do, I've often wondered why the mode of serving it properly is NOT as significant as is the mode of baptism. [We have certainly adjusted the elements of that supper to our present status.]

This is not to say there isn't a proper mode [a manner of doing something] for both and the proper truth of each to be taught and practiced. It is to say that maybe our Baptist distinctives are important to us as Baptists, and they are, but those distinctives don't rise to the level of salvation issues. They are good for that "teaching them all things" level after we've won them.

Again, I'm assuming you don't see a salvific value in baptism OR the Lord's supper.

I could fellowship with a James Kennedy, [he's with the Lord now] and did when I was trained in EE at Coral Ridge Church under him and did not view him as in unrepentant sin at all.

Final clear statement about my beliefs. I belive I see in the text of scripture the mode of baptism is to be immersion. I DO-NOT think it is so clearly stated that we can call one "in sin" who doesn't see it our way. We won't call them "Baptist". But let's do call them "brother" if, in fact, they name Jesus as Lord.

Scott Shaffer said...


Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I think I'm in agreement with everything you wrote.

Regarding the way we serve the Lord's supper, I think David Roger's analogy was flawed, although I certainly understood his point. The flaw, as I saw it, is that with the Lord's Supper we are all in agreement that only believer's should participate, while paedobaptism involves non-believers. Nevertheless, I understand his point.

It appears some commenters still think I'm supporting Dr. Yarnell's view (or Mark Dever's for that matter). I firmly believe that Scripture teaches believer baptism by immersion. For me the key issue is believer's baptism, not so much the mode. So, I don't have a big problem with believer's baptism by pouring or even sprinkling. Furthermore, I would gladly cooperate with, and in fact have cooperated with non-Baptists in missions endeavors and other ministries.

A related question: Would you admit into membership of your southern baptist church, a believer who was baptized as an infant, or one who was baptized as a believer but not by immersion?

Anonymous said...

To all Baptists who disagree with Yarnell:

1. How can someone be said to believe in he great commission if they are not baptised or baptise nonbelievers (which is not baptism. right?)

2. How important is baptism to the Chistian faith?

greg.w.h said...


While cooperation can be done while maintaining conviction, I'll offer that cooperation is anti-thetical to self-promotion through namecalling, disparagement, and denigration of others with interpretational differences.

The use of the term "unrepentant sin" strikes me as a careless term whose intent is to sharpen distinctions rather than seek honest fellowship.

Similarly--as a specific example--focusing on the "flawed" nature of pedo-baptism sidesteps our equally extra-biblical doctrine regarding "the age of accountability." (Don't bother trying to prove to me the Bible supports it...the arguments for pedobaptism are equally strong in my opinion.)

Both doctrines seek to assure the parents of children that we can trust God that their children are in safe hands at least through the time of adult decisionmaking/confirmation. Once we get honest about the INTENT of the two doctrines, then we can see that we're closer in belief: i.e. we are all expressing a trust in God that our children will not be sent to hell without the adult opportunity to express faith in Jesus Christ.

I'm not saying these distinctions are unimportant, but that we have a very high calling in Jesus's high priestly prayer and under his claim of ALL authority that preceded the issuing of (what we call) the Great Commission. While Jesus was praying to the Father for unity for those given to him, we should be just as serious about considering his heart over this issue as we are with respect to evangelism if not more so.

If the Great Commission is--under the "all" authority granted to Jesus--the "Commandment of Christ", then I will offer that the unity Jesus prays for in John 17 is the FOUNDATION for that Commandment. I'll offer that we're truly missing the mark if we think our evangelism, discipleship, and baptizing efforts eclipse the lack of love implicit in our intentional namecalling, disparagement, and denigration of others beliefs.

And, yes, I used the term "missing the mark" intentionally.

Greg Harvey

P.S. I'm not intentionally avoiding an analysis based on the doctrines of grace, I'm just trying to keep the discussion of the spiritual/emotional need that is met by both pedobaptism and the doctrine of the age of accountability "simple".

Bob Cleveland said...

I can't help it, but I have to laugh every time I hear or see Baptists kicking around the idea of immersion vs sprinkling, paedobaptism, etc. Fer cryin' out loud, why doesn't someone ask a presbyterian (etc) to come in here and tell what they believe? Particularly before we paint them with the "unrepentant (something or other)" brush.

It's like the philosophers who debated how many teeth a horse should have, when there was a horse tied up outside. Goodness, it was too important a discussion to leave up to a HORSE!

Scott Shaffer said...


Earlier I pasted the relevant portion of the Westminster Confession of Faith. It is pretty clear about their view.

Anonymous said...


This argument was started by Bart Barber last week. Dr. Yarnell is picking it up and making it the official dictum of SWBTS.

This teaching is absurd. He does not stop at baptism, but moves to other doctrines that he is personally against, such as speaking in tongues. Now we see the real motivation behind the IMB policies: those who practice PPL and do not baptize correctly are "unrepentant sinners" and they are not Great Commission Christians! Well, why didn't you just say so, Malcolm? If you had been so forthright almost two years ago, we would have all saved a lot of time.

I agree that groups that do not baptize confessing believers by immersion are in error, but to call someone an "unrepentant sinner" means something. According to 1 John 3, you are questioning their salvation, whether you admit that or not, because one who has the Holy Spirit cannot continue in sin. Apparently, there is another designation for those who hold differing interpretations or beliefs on issues, but that nuance is lost on the scorched earth theolgians at SWBTS.

I do not have words strong enough to condemn this teaching. If it were just Dr. Yarnell's perspective, that would be one thing, but it is clear that this line of reasoning is meant to be forced upon all Southern Baptists until those who disagree are run out of the SBC.

If this does not sound an alarm, nothing will. Unfortunately, it seems that most sleep soundly in Zion, assured that they will be protected and will not have to think too deeply about things.

Debbie Kaufman said...

It's amazing that some in their invitations to Christ point out how the gospel message is so simple a child can understand, what they fail to point out is how complicated it is after. Then you have to learn, know and accept all this doctrine that only some can teach or you are an unrepentant sinner. Forget about God making those who are born again new creations.

Rex Ray said...

David McLaughlin,
I can’t answer your question because I don’t know what ‘Landmarkism’ is. Webster: ‘landmark’…“any event that marks a turning point.”

All I know is what my Baptist preacher father taught me which agrees with C.H. Carroll’s book…Trail of Blood.

At one time his picture was on the wall of SWBTS and his book was the pride and joy of Baptists.
At his death, Carroll’s large church history library was given to SWBTS. His book was labeled untrue when the Conservative Resurgence took over.

I believe they thought it conflicted with ‘inerrancy’ by Carroll writing that big churches started running over small churches and gave an example of 3 John 1:9 “I sent a brief letter to the church [big church Jerusalem] about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader [small church] does not acknowledge our AUTHORITY.” (New Living Translation 1997)

Carroll implied that the writer of Third John was an elder of Jerusalem, and NOT John the apostle who according to history was boiled in a large pot of oil 20 years earlier soon after his brother was put to death.
Do not the bold die first? Had John shook his fist in the king’s face and called fire from heaven that resulted in his cruel death?

Tradition says the oil did not kill John, but do we believe tradition or the words of Jesus that the Sons of Thunder would drink of the cup that Jesus drank? (Matthew 20:23)

greg.w.h said...

Dever's initial formulation dates to 8/15 ( ). I think Bart was just restating Dever's formulation. I suspect that Yarnell took the baton from Bart.

Regardless, sharpening distinctions for the purpose of further division seems anti-thetical to the high priestly prayer that predates Jesus's claim of all authority and the issuance of the Great Commission. It is very difficult for me to even imagine that Jesus would endorse the use of the term "Great Commission Christians" as a point of increased division.

I continue to believe that we risk being out of fellowship with God when we intentionally reject fellowship with ANY of "all of the redeemed" (Article VI, BFM2000) short of clearly carnal behavior. I argue the differences over baptism, ppl, and even believer's baptism--while all important distinctions and even sufficient to emphasize separate weekly worship--are not adequate to support the incendiary term "unrepentant sinners."

In fact, it's atrocious that the EC wouldn't speak immediately against the term out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ given that Al Mohler DID speak against attacks against seminary presidents.

Greg Harvey

P.S. Rex: any use of terms like "the trail of blood" or "the crimson/scarlet thread" that are used to describe the connection between current Baptist belief and apostolic authority has a strong Landmarkist bent to it. Most of it has--at best--indeterminate historical validity as well, especially B.H. Carroll's book. I prefer to think of it as an imaginative sermon rather than a history. There is nothing wrong with telling the story that way, as long as we recognize that it is impossible to prove historically other than "notionally".

Paul Burleson said...


My personal view and the way I led the churches I pastored for forty years is that an infant, by my definition of scriptural baptism, has not been baptized and cannot be by that definition. Were someone to desire to come into our fellowship by personal testimony of their faith in Christ, who had been "baptized" as an infant, they would be instructed in and would need to choose to submit to biblical baptism by the definition we hold to. If they wish to maintain that their infant experience WAS biblical baptism, I would understand, but would not see them as Baptist and would be honest with them about their inability to become a Baptist as I know Baptists. But I would not be judgmental as to their view. Just disagree.

I hold that relating to a brother in a quality relationship is as high, if not greater, in importance than whether one shares my Baptist distinctives. So my relating to him is NOT based on whether he joins our fellowship or not but on his naming of Jesus as his Lord. I certainly would not view him as in “unrepentant sin” as I’ve indicated.

I don't think it is necessary for ALL believers to be at the same place doctrinally to call one another brothers/sisters and to cooperate in the gospel. But we are in a state in the modern day church of having many different views gathering as a fellowship around those many different views. I may not like this totally [and I don’t] and may not believe it was the original NT model, [which I don’t] but I understand that it has come to this, so I make the best of it.

It is even getting worse now as Baptists are beginning to gathering around an approved view of gifts, women in ministry, methods of observing the Lord's table, and perhaps other things yet to come in the future, or you can't be recognized as a true Baptist or even share evangelism efforts with those who have slightly different views of those lesser doctrines. I fear for us over those other things that may be coming.

I fear rather than advancing the Kingdom, we may be grieving the Spirit who is the only one with the power to advance that Kindom. God help us if we do grieve and quench Him.

I am a Baptist by conviction. I do hold to Baptist distinctives. I just don't want to fail to be in unity of heart with other believers who are where I may not be theologically. Our [Kingdom people] ground of unity is Christ and Him crucified. We can be different as a Kingdom family in some things and have freedom to see lesser doctrines differently. But in all things we are to express a genuine love, not intolerance.

I’m afraid this is my last word as I’ve spoken more than I wish to on Wade's blog now. Thanks for asking.

Bob Cleveland said...

Scott: I know, but the discussion wasn't limited to cutting and pasting what the BF&M says.

Incidentally, I'm an ex-presbyterian and methodist who was immersed when I joined FBC; as I recall, it was simply explained as necessary for that.

david b mclaughlin said...

...what they fail to point out is how complicated it is after.

Amen Debbie. I have rarely heard anyone but myself state it thusly.

It is very difficult for me to even imagine that Jesus would endorse the use of the term "Great Commission Christians" as a point of increased division.

Amen Greg!

Thanks for your info.

One thing about this blog is for sure, it has given me many new things to study.

Thanks to you all!

Steve said...

I am accustomed to the lure of fast cars traveling at high speed, and the lure of a pretty face smiling, and am most intimate with the lure of milk chocolate, as well as the sound and look of a basketball popping through a net, but I obviously am but a novice in dealing with the lure of being holier than thou. Whew!!

Scott Shaffer said...


Great words of wisdom. I believe your position is faithful to Scripture and both recognizes and preserves denominational distinctives.

Anonymous said...

OK. So let's take Dr. Yarnell's premise at face. That strawman setup, I ask a question, seriously:

If I am "an unrepentant sinner" and others in my church can be identified as same (or as a superset, the entire church), then will God bless our gifts to the IMB by way of the Lottie Moon offering or is it an offering wasted?

Gary from Norman

Rex Ray said...

Greg Harvey,
Thanks for the correction in the name of B.H. Carroll. His book is on the internet, but I didn’t take the time to look it up.
Years ago, I bought 100 of his books, but gave them all away.
Actually, he did not write the book…he preached it, and someone else made his sermons into a book.

You say it has “a strong Landmarkist bent to it.” Maybe you could tell David McLaughlin and me what “Landmarkist” is?
And then if you could copy paste from the book to prove your point, I’d come more believing you than just your opinion.

Remember, Carroll’s library was one of the most complete church histories on record, and his book is based on history that he spent a lifetime studying.

In your saying you “prefer to think of it as an imaginative sermon rather than a history” tips me off that you prefer to make John the elder into John the apostle in order to give the Bible more ‘clout’ in being inerrant.

To say it’s an imaginary sermon is like calling someone a Communist without any proof, or discrediting someone by calling them a liberal.

And another thing, since Carroll got his book from history books, why do you say it can’t be proven historically?

Anonymous said...

The problem with Carroll's "Trail of Blood" is that some of those he identifies as Baptist or "baptistic" were clearly heterodox. He had to really stretch some of the facts to fit his thesis. Those interested might find "Baptist Successionism: A Crucial Question in Baptist History" by James Edward McGoldrick helpful.

Rex Ray said...

When I started to SWBTS in 1958, one of the required books I bought was Harper’s Bible Dictionary.

Page 344: “External evidence points to John’s [apostle] early martyrdom, before A.D. 70.” “Many scholars find both external and internal evidence to support the view that the Elder John was the author of this Gospel as well as of the three Epistles of John.”

WOW! I’ll bet Patterson doesn’t have that as required reading…probably not even in the library.

BTW, if John was not murdered, how do you explain him drinking the ‘cup’ of Jesus?

Tina Boyer said...

Quite a discussion! One seldom reads long, serious discussions like this. It was equally insightful, troubling and enlightening. Amy

greg.w.h said...

I need to correct an error (and something I have to admit I've misstated in the passed, was corrected on, and yet STILL got wrong this time.)

J.M. Carroll was the author of "The Trail of Blood". His brother B.H. Carroll founded SWBTS.

I'll offer the ( )article on Landmarkism rather than try to delve into it myself. Alternatively you can read Gene Bridges articles on Landmarkism here (it's a blog, so it's in reverse order): ( )

The wikipedia article on B.H. Carroll also mentions landmarkism ( ) and from it you might detect why I have twice confused him as the author of The Trail of Blood.

As simply as I can put this, the line marked "Anabaptist" in the chart from The Trail of Blood is show starting as you noted in 250 AD. The historical usage of the term didn't occur until MUCH later, and the historical evidence of re-baptism and of baptistic influences is weak. While my background in church history is just adequate, I hope the Bridges site should give you enough to chew on to be able to separate the truth from fiction in The Trail of Blood.

My mom (especially) also introduced me to the Landmarkist theory though she did not share The Trail of Blood with me. Dr. Estep at SWBTS made his best effort to convince me in Baptist History that we are the spiritual heirs of the Anabaptists (one of his pet theories). But the direct connection even between THOSE two groups is exceedingly weak...basically just Smyth's contact with Mennonites during his groups self-exile in Amsterdam. And Thomas Helwys soon separated the core of Smyth's group and returned to England. ( )

Please understand that I'm not trying to insult you. But Baptist claims of superiority from a theological OR from a historical viewpoint have a bit of jingoism to them. I believe it is enough to be satisfied with the claim that we seek to accurately handle the truth we find in the text of the Bible and not get caught up with less fruitful historical theories.

Greg Harvey

P.S. I realize some folks won't have much use for the wiki articles, in which case I offer the opportunity to do your own searching in Google. I think the wiki articles are an adequate start for researching the topic via the Internet.

Unknown said...

I think it prudent to remind everyone that Dr. Yarnell’s “L-A-N-D-M-A-R-K-I-S-M” is responsible for splitting the SBC once already… (Hello---that’s where the “Church of Christ” churches came from) and if Landmarkism is not addressed in this generation it will surely divide us again!

“Those who will not learn from history are destined to repeat it…”

I wonder what makes Dr. Yarnell think that some of the Denominations he mentioned “… Presbyterian, Reformed, non-Baptist Congregationalist etc. would even seriously consider cooperating with the largest “UNREGENERATE” (and unwilling to repent of it) denomination in the world? See

What a joke! “Physician heal thyself”

Grace to all,
Greg Alford

Anonymous said...

Your second paragraph made an excellent point, Greg. It appears that some of us are very good at getting the speck out of our brother's eye while missing the log in our own eye. Can we have some consistency?

Rex Ray said...

My thanks the first time was incorrect as you have brought out the real name of Carroll who wrote the Trail of Blood. Some of the introduction is as follow:

Dr. J. M. Carroll, the author of this book, was born in the state of Arkansas, January 8, 1858, and died in Texas, January 10, 1931. Dr. Carroll not only became a leader among Texas Baptist, but an outstanding figure of Southern Baptists, and of the world.

Dr. J. W. Porter attended the lectures. He was so impressed he told Brother Carroll if he would write the messages he would publish them in a book. Dr. Carroll wrote the lectures and gave Dr. Porter the right to publish them along with the chart which illustrates the history so vividly.

However, Dr. Carroll died before the book came off the press, but Dr. Porter placed them before the public and the whole edition was soon sold. Now, by the grace of God, we are able to present this 66th edition of 20,000.

In the book is written:
Cardinal Hosius (Catholic, 1524), President of the Council of Trent: "Were it not that the Baptists have been grievously tormented and cut off with the knife during the past twelve hundred years, they would swarm in greater number than all the Reformers." (Hosius, Letters, Apud Opera, pp. 112, 113.)

Edinburg Cyclopedia (Presbyterian): "It must have already occurred to our readers that the Baptists are the same sect of Christians that were formerly described as Ana-Baptists. Indeed this seems to have been their leading principle from the time of Tertullian to the present time." Tertullian was born just fifty years after the death of the Apostle John.

I’ve skimmed all the internet sights you listed, but do not see how they cancel the Trail of Blood. The Book says Baptist roots go back to the teachings of Christ as interpreted by Paul and Peter. What in the world is wrong with that?

I believe the roots of Catholics and Baptists are seen in the First Church Counsel in Acts 15.

One group is basing being saved by Jesus PLUS tradition, and the other is basing salvation of the gift of Christ plus nothing.

It’s easy to see which group lost by the letter to the Gentiles.

I FEEL the reason the Trail of Blood has been rejected by the Conservative Resurgence is the same reason Foxe’s Book of Martyrs was rewritten which makes James the pastor of the Jerusalem church, look like a Baptist preacher instead of a Catholic priest as shown in the original.

(James was the only person allowed in the Holy place of the temple where his daily job was to pray for the sins of the people which made him hero of the Pharisees.)

The reason for the ‘cover-up’ is to protect inerrancy. Unless we believe the Bible as inerrantist we cannot have a job in the SBC. It seems the only reason we get to vote is our money.

Greg, why have you not explained how the Apostle John drank the cup that Jesus drank?

Yes, Alan Cross, there seems to be plenty of logs for a lot of people.

greg.w.h said...

Greg, why have you not explained how the Apostle John drank the cup that Jesus drank?

I have no clue what you're talking about other than obscure references to Presbyter John (aka "Prester John") that are on the Internet. As far as I am aware, John lived to a ripe age including an exile on Patmos. That is the historical Baptist (and Catholic) tradition regarding how his life was lived out.

I don't attempt to change my view of history in order to fulfill biblical comments that do not have clear meaning. You might find I'm consistent in that way about how I handle Scripture: what is there is there and if the meaning is clear and it is connected with the rest of the Bible doctrinally I emphasize it. I enjoy reading and discussing the rest, but I try to be careful to avoid making history or doctrine out of unclear passages.

I apologize, by the way, that my last post crossed yours and that is the primary reason I didn't respond to that point previously.

I have no problem with Baptists agreeing with Peter and Paul. I have a problem with the claim that Peter and Paul agree with Baptists.

The first statement is humble and submits to the authority of both apostles. The second statement is dangerous, prideful, and recklessly arrogant.

Greg Harvey

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking about that Emergent guy saying "I question everything."

My three year old does too.

Let the little children come unto me....


Anonymous said...

Landmarkism: I am at home and all my history books are at church, but I'll give it a crack from, memory. Landmarkism gets its name from a sermon (which eventually became a book) preached in the mid-1800s by J.R. Graves, a Baptist from Tennessee. His title was something like, "An Old Landmark Reset." While little (if anything) in it was entirely new, he popularized it within Baptist circles in America, and by the late 1800s, it had became widely accepted among Southern Baptists (to the point that at least one history professor at SBTS lost his job for disagreeing with it). Others accepted his premises, either in whole or part, and these include Pendleton (first name I forget) and eventually the afforementioned Carroll. It was more a loosely connected movement than an exact historical systematic theology. However, you frequently find themes within Landmarkism such as, in no particular order, (1) Baptist churches have existed in historic continuity from the beginning of the New Testament church at the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem (some taking it farther back, to John the Baptist), although not all have been formally called "Baptist churches;" (2) Baptist churches are the only true Gospel churches, while all other so-called churches are at most padeobaptist societies (defined along a 19th Baptist understanding of the "society" or parachurch group), with no "church" standing at all; (3) ministers of other so-called churches are not ministers of the gospel, with no such standing from the Bible; (4) because only the Baptist church practices correct Gospel baptism and communion, Baptists are the only true church in the world. There may have been Landmarkists who said that all other "padobaptists," because of their error in the mode and appropriate candidates for baptism, were unregenerate sinners, but I don't think that most of them went that far. However, adherence to this system does mean that you cannot consider Baptists as part of the Protestant movement--because they predate it. Furthermore, to find this historic continuity, you have to include the German anabaptists (as well as a lot of other heritical groups before them) as part of the Baptist church, even though the anabaptists did believe in the radical and violent redistribution of wealth and it is hard to document any actual affiliations. By the time of the Memonites whom the English Baptists met in Holland, they had become a peace movement (no doubt in reaction to the excess of violence 100+ years earlier, when both the Lutherans and the Catholics fought them).

Hope this helps a little.

John Fariss

Rex Ray said...

You say you have no clue of what I’m talking about when I asked you to explain how the Apostle John drank the cup that Jesus drank.

Yesterday I wrote: “Tradition says the oil did not kill John, but do we believe tradition or the words of Jesus that the Sons of Thunder would drink of the cup that Jesus drank? (Matthew 20:23)”

Holman Bible…Mathew 20:20-23: “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons approached Him with her sons…Promise, she said to Him, that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right and the other on Your left, in Your kingdom. But Jesus answered, You don’t know what you’re asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink? We are able, they said to Him. He told them, you will indeed drink My cup. But to sit at My right and left is not Mine to give; instead, it belongs to those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.”

Mark 10:35: “Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee,…” verse 37-39 “…Allow us to sit at Your right and at Your left in Your glory. But Jesus said to them, You don’t know what you’re asking. Are you able to drink the cup I drink or to be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with? We are able, they told Him. Jesus said to them, You will drink the cup I drink, and you will be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with.”

So if we believe the words of Jesus, and NOT TRADITION, it was ELDER John that lived to a ripe old age exiled on Patmos.

Believing Jesus might hurt inerrancy, right?

When Jesus comes again, wonder how he would fit in with all the traditions and doctrines of Baptists today?
But his knee will not be doing any bowing, it will be ours.

greg.w.h said...


I have enjoyed the discussion, but I politely decline to pursue it further. The written history (and supporting documentary evidence) of the situation is unclear, and our best source of information is church tradition. Using that prophecy speculatively to define history requires us to read into the prophecy what Jesus meant. As you noted, we won't know for sure what he meant until he tells us. I am content with that.

Thanks for the conversation!


Anonymous said...

I jumped from Wade's post to David's blog and had to respond to what Malcolm Yarnell said. It then occured to me that my response might be of interest to readers here, so here it is...

I throw myself in the evangelical ecumenicist camp, and find Malcolm's arguments and rhetoric unhelpful. For me the operative passage for deciding how and why to cooperate with other Christians who do not fully agree with me does not come from abstract reasoning on Mt. 28, but from the very clear discussion on the weak and the strong given by Paul in Romans 14.

Paul begins his discussion by saying, "Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions." Paul then goes on to describe two issues that separated the Roman Christians - food and the observance of days. Probably some Jewish Christians and Proselyte believers could not in good conscience give up observing aspects of Jewish ceremonial law. Others (including Paul) believed that in Christ there was freedom in these matters, Christians were not obligated to follow Jewish kosher regulations or to observe the Sabbath or Jewish holy days.

Paul's argument, however, is not to beat up on the weak, but to exhort the strong that their primary obligation is to maintain the bond of unity through exercising charity. Paul summarizes this call to charity in v. 17, "For the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Thus David's analogy of the "Common Loaf" is very much in the spirit of Romans 14.

Now we all know that Paul had a much different attitude towards the Judaizers in Galatians, and in that epistle he even mentioned rebuking Peter for appearing to backslide on what the Lord had taught him in Joppa. This is where the distinction between "Faith" and "Order" has been brought into the discussion. Paul was vehement in protecting his gospel message of justification by faith through grace alone, apart from works of the law. But where the faith is not in question, he argues for both Christian liberty and Christian charity (see F.F. Bruce's discussion of Romans 14 in the Tyndale commentary for this line of argument).

Malcolm, I would like to know how you can reconcile your assertion that "Speaking and expositing about the essential of one’s ‘faith’ in Christ while dismissing the essential of obeying the ‘order’ established by Christ is utterly sinful" with the priority of liberty and charity enjoined upon the 'strong' in Romans 14? To call other Christians who give every evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives "unrepentant sinners" because they do not believe as you do in issues of order seems to me to be a clear violation of Paul's counsel to the strong. You are putting "eating and drinking" before "righteousness and peace and Joy in the Holy Spirit." This may, in your view, build up the SBC kingdom (I disagree), but it certainly does not build up the Kingdom of God.

Let me flesh out my argument in terms of my own life story. After finishing up a couple of degrees at an institution that embodies evangelical ecumenicism in New England, I was invited to spend some time at a similar institution in the messy border region of Europe's civilizations. It fit in with my desire to one day work in that part of the world. Our student body was not only interdenominational (Pentecostals, Baptists, etc), but international (Croats, Serbs, Macedonians, Slovenians, Albanians, Ukrainians, Romanians, only my people - Hungarians - seemed to be absent). The school was historically Pentecostal, but at that time it was also the official school for Baptists in the country, because their former seminary happened to be on the wrong side of the new border. I suppose that if I had Malcolm's attitude, I would not have chosen to cooperate with "unrepentant sinners" and would not have had the opportunity to teach all the Baptist students I taught.

If I had Malcolm's attitude, I also would not have married my wife. But back when I married her, the IMB still allowed charismatics to serve. So for the first ten years of our married life in the USA, we always attended SBC churches (which was not easy in New England - one reason why we moved south). The dream was to go back to Eastern Europe through the IMB. But two years ago the IMB trustees changed that rule. Now for the first time in over 15 years, I am not a member in a Southern Baptist church. I am too conservative for the CBF, but I no longer feel welcomed in the SBC. So we attend a church that fits both of us (charismatic for my wife, Reformed and baptistic for me). People like David and Wade are fighting the good fight for the SBC. They are trying to stop the revolution from eating its own children. They are putting "righteousness and peace and Joy in the Holy Spirit" before "eating and drinking" so that the SBC can play a more constructive role in building up the Kingdom of God. Malcolm, I believe your path is not only not as faithful to the witness of Scripture, but it will lead the SBC into increasing irrelevancy in the global church.