Friday, November 21, 2014

Coolidge: Men Do Not Make Laws

From my favorite President, Calvin Coolidge:
Men do not make laws. They do but discover them. Laws must be justified by something more than the will of the majority. They must rest on the eternal foundation of righteousness. That state is most fortunate in its form of government which has the aptest instruments for the discovery of laws. The latest, most modern, and nearest perfect system that statesmanship has devised is representative government. Its weakness is the weakness of us imperfect human beings who administer it. Its strength is that even such administration secures to the people more blessings than any other system ever produced.  (January 7, 2014)
Just as rights originate from God, so do laws. God is the great Lawgiver. Apart from him, we are hopelessly blind.

All Around the Web - November 21, 2014

Kyle McDanell -  "Seeking the City": Blogging Through Brand and Pratt - Entire Series

Thom Rainer - Ministers Can Continue Using the Housing Allowance Per Court Ruling

The Gospel Coalition - 4 Dangers for Complementarians

The Telegraph - Baby captured smiling in the womb by ultrasound

Peggy Noonan - The Loneliest President Since Nixon

Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Baptists Through the Centuries": Blogging Through Bebbington - Introduction

In 1864 a congregation in the English East Midlands that was planning a baptism decided, according to the minutes of its church meeting, "that a pair of waterproof boots be purchased by the Church for the occasion and for future Baptisms." The congregation was clearly not envisaging that the baptismal ceremonies would be conducted, as in most Christian churches, by sprinkling water on the brow of an infant. So much water would be used that the minister in charge would need boots to keep himself dry. The volume of water shows that the candidates were to be submerged, and were evidently to be large people. The mode of baptism was immersion; the subjects were to be those capable of conscious faith. This was a Baptist church, one belonging to the New Connexion of General Baptists in Castle Donington, Leicestershire. (1)

In roughly four hundred years, baptists have become one of the most dominant Christian denominations in the world. Beginning in England, the baptists have moved to America and now has churches in most countries around the world. Their story is a fascinating one and thus I have decided to blog through Dr. David Bebbington's book Baptists Through the Centuries: A History of a Global People (Baylor, 2010).

Admittedly, this book has been on my shelf for several years. It was assigned reading in seminary and I am afraid I barely cracked its cover. Nevertheless, I was recently asked about the origin of the baptists, I found this forsaken book. Shortly after opening its pages I realized that it would serve as a good volume to walk through slowly.

The above quote are the first words of the book. Like most church minutes, it appears mundane and historically insignificant to the casual reader but it reveals much more. Not only do we know this is a baptist church identified by its staunch belief in believers baptism, but, as the author goes on to note, it reveals the level of respectability the baptists had earned in the surrounding community. The baptists were no longer a small sect, but a growing, vibrant community of believers.

Bebbington states his thesis thus: This book attempts to address the question of why Baptists have been over the four centuries of their existence. (2) Here he makes two important points. First, we must not assume that Baptists [have] possessed a single, consistent identity. Thee were, after all, many types of Baptists. The General baptists of Castle Donington, for example, entirely repudiated the Calvinism that most Baptists then professed. That last point is an interesting one the author explores in more detail in a later chapter. The Arminian (General) baptists rejected what most Baptists, the author suggests, believed at that time: the doctrines of grace.

Secondly, Bebbington sets out to provide a history of baptists globally. The baptists were born out of English separatism (a subject he discusses in the second chapter) and quickly spread to America. The author notes that A large majority of Baptists - roughly two-thirds - still live in the United States. (3) Nevertheless, there are sizeable communities of Baptists have grown up elsewhere as well. Nigeria claims over 2 million members, while Congo, India, Myanmar (Burma), and Brazil all report between 1 and 2 million. There is, therefore, a need for Baptist history to have an international dimension. (3-4).

From this standpoint, the author will push forward will a global history of baptists one that begins with the English separatists in the 17th century.

I look forward to this journey.

For more:
The People's Preacher: The Life of Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers
John MacArthur on Baptism
Credo vs. Paedo: MacArthur & Sproul Debate Baptism
"The Baptist Reformation"
Recoverying a Vision: A Documentary on the Presidency of R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

All Around the Web - November 20, 2014

David Schrock - What is Evangelical Feminism? And Where Did It Come From?

The Gospel Coalition - A Missing Piece in North American Worship

Trevin Wax - How To Implement a Communist Revolution in 3 Easy Steps

John Stonestreet -  One Life Lost, All Lives Diminished

Practical Shepherding - What are the 5 areas of a local church that need to be addressed in church revitalization?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

From Lewis's Pen: Better to Reign in Hell

From The Great Divorce:
"Well, Sir," I said, "that also needs explaining. What do they choose, these souls who go back (I have yet seen no others)? And how can they choose it?"

"Milton was right," said my Teacher. "The choice of every lost soul can be expressed in the words 'Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.' There is always something they insist on keeping even at the price of misery. There is always something they prefer to joy - that is, to reality. Ye see it easily enough in a spoiled child that would sooner miss its play and its supper than say it was sorry and be friends. Ye call it the Sulks. But in adult life it has a hundred fine names - Achilles' wrath and Coriolanus' grandeur, Revenge and Injured Merit and Self-Respect and Tragic Greatness and Proper Pride.

All Around the Web - November 19, 2014

The Gospel Coalition - On the Wrong Side of History?: Carson, Keller, and Piper Tackle a Common Objection 

Liberate - Paul Tripp on the Problems in Pastoral Culture

Thom Rainer - Fourteen Characteristics of Genuinely Friendly Churches

John Stonestreet - Forgetting the Family Factor

Financial Times - The rise of Christianity in China

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Look Ma, Your on TV . . .

Promoting Operation Christmas Child. News, Weather