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Methodism: John Wesley’s Plan to Bring Christ’s Holiness to the World

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What is Methodism?

Methodism is a Protestant denomination that emerged within Anglicanism during the 1700s that sought to inspire a deep evangelical ethos within the Church of England. Because they originally were methodical and highly disciplined in their approach to the Christian life, they were labeled “Methodists” by their opponents, a name which stuck. John Wesley, who did more than anyone to establish Methodism, did not initially intend it to become a separate denomination. As the movement matured, however, it became clear that significant differences emerged between Anglicanism and Methodism, a point which led to an official separation after Wesley’s death in 1791. Read More »

Congregationalism: Self-Governing Churches “Gathered” Under Christ’s Rule

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What is Congregationalism?

In church history, the term Congregationalism refers to that form of ecclesiastical polity (or church governance) that envisions the spiritual authority of the church to reside in the local congregation. According to Congregationalists, Christ is the head of the church; he does not rule it through intermediary institutions that are above the church (such as bishops or presbyteries, bodies which are external to the local church). Rather, He rules each individual congregation immediately through his Word, the Scriptures. Because Christian believers are endowed with the Holy Spirit, they can rightfully interpret the Scriptures, “covenant” together under Christ’s kingship in local congregations, and ordain ministers who will faithfully lead them according to the Scriptures. Read More »

Like a Steersman in a Storm: The Courage of Adoniram Judson

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Near the end of his life, the pioneer American missionary, Adoniram Judson (1788-1850), returned to America for the first time since he departed nearly 35 years prior. The twice–widowed Judson along with his children came in need of recuperation and rest and were welcomed with virtual celebrity status all along the Eastern seaboard. Instead of rest, Judson was shuttled from meeting to meeting speaking to churches both north and south. Read More »

Debating Paige Patterson: 1981 Southern Baptist Inerrancy Debates with Cecil Sherman & Kenneth Chafin

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Seven-score and ten years ago this very day, Abraham Lincoln arrived in a town not far from here to dedicate the cemetery and honor the men who had fallen at the Battle of Gettysburg. In his two-and-a-half-minute address, Lincoln remarked, “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.” Gettysburg, says historian Alan C. Guelzo, was “the greatest and most violent collision the North American continent had ever seen,” 1 and thus the testing of the nation to which Lincoln alluded was “a kind of pass/fail examination to determine once and for all whether the American founding had indeed been misbegotten.” 2

Download PDF of “Debating Paige Patterson” Read More »

Notes:

  1. Allen C. Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion (New York: Knopf, 2013), 5.
  2. Ibid, 480.

Are Christians ever excused from teaching and obeying clear commands in the New Testament?

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A forgotten, but surprisingly prescient, approach to questions regarding the necessity and future of Baptist denominational identity can be gleaned from the words of John A. Broadus (1827-1895) when he addressed the American Baptist Publication Society’s 1881 meeting in Indianapolis.

Broadus, one of the founding professors and later president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s first seminary, titled his sermon “The Duty of Baptists to Teach their Distinctive Views.Read More »

Presbyterianism: Carrying the Torch of “Reformed” Ecclesiology and Theology

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Last month when we examined Anglicanism, we noted that the denomination’s uniqueness originated in the way its founders sought to unite the best of Protestantism and Catholicism. They sought, in other words, a middle way between “Geneva” and “Rome.” This month we turn our attention to a group that sought to identify itself only with Geneva’s “Reformed” church: Presbyterianism. Read More »

Are unbelievers most helped by believers who trust the Bible?

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A forgotten, but surprisingly prescient, approach to questions regarding the necessity and future of Baptist denominational identity can be gleaned from the words of John A. Broadus (1827-1895) when he addressed the American Baptist Publication Society’s 1881 meeting in Indianapolis.

Broadus, one of the founding professors and later president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s first seminary, titled his sermon “The Duty of Baptists to Teach their Distinctive Views.Read More »

Denominational Diversity in North America: Why Are There So Many Denominations?

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Two hundred years ago frontier revivalist Barton Stone was fed up with Presbyterianism. He found the denomination too theological, too elitist, and out of touch with the common frontier folk he ministered to in southern Kentucky. His biggest problem was that he believed Presbyterianism was not biblical. To Stone, pure Christianity must be built solely upon a plain reading of Scripture, and as he surveyed the Protestant denominations of his day he concluded that they all were contaminated with human traditions. He thus founded a new group that would not be another denomination but merely an organization of biblical believers bound together to worship God according to scriptural guidelines. To capture their anti-denominational spirit, they simply called themselves “Christians.” Read More »

Paige Patterson and the Battle for the Blood

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Engaging the atonement has been, for Paige Patterson, a long walk in the same direction. As Al Mohler noted in a recent blog, the debate about penal substitution and the atonement had roots in the fertile soil of the seminaries—roots that would expose themselves during the Conservative Resurgence. Mohler notes it as a time when the convention began to understand, “… a deeper divide over the nature of the atonement than many Southern Baptists had been prepared to acknowledge.” Read More »

Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History: Carl F. H. Henry

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on B&H Academic Blog and is part of a series of theological biographies by Jason Duesing: Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History.

“He is intellectually the most eminent of conservative theologians. I would say he’s been the professor and I’ve been the student.” So said Billy Graham reflecting upon the influence of Carl F. H. Henry (1913-2003). Like Philipp Melanchthon to Martin Luther, or Andrew Fuller to William Carey, with the passing of time the figures in history that built the theological infrastructure to support and defend an evangelical movement often fade from popular memory. Graham, Luther, Carey we know, but names like Carl F. H. Henry are not readily in view. Although unknown, Henry is not forgotten. Gregory Alan Thornbury’s latest work is quickly becoming one of the books to read this year. This is a welcomed and needed volume, for the perceptive Thornbury observes, “So it seems as though there may still be enough of us left who believe that Carl Henry, a key to evangelicalism’s past, may in fact be a cipher to its future.” What is it then that made Henry so effective in his day and thus worth reviewing now? Carl Trueman believes that one part of what made Henry remarkable was his “unerring ability to see the big picture, to focus on issues of real substance, and to communicate the significance of these issues to the theological public.” Henry saw this big picture first in his younger days as a journalist. Read More »

Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History: William Carey

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on B&H Academic Blog and is part of a series of theological biographies by Jason Duesing: Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History

“He keeps the grand end in view.” After arriving in India in September 1796, John Fountain used these words to describe his first impressions of William Carey (1761-1834). A missionary pioneer, organizer, catalyst, survivor, and inspiration, Carey lived 73 full years and changed the modern world. J. H. Kane argues that Carey’s missions tract, An Enquiry, was “a landmark in Christian history and deserves a place alongside Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses.” Carey’s nephew attributed much of Carey’s fruitful longevity to “invincible patience in labour, and uninterrupted constancy.” Carey would not agree with these assessments. In his words, if one were to “give me credit for being a plodder, he will describe me justly. Anything beyond this will be too much. I can plod.” Read More »

The Cacophony of Silence: Rising Global neo-Pentecostalism, World Christianity, and the Southern Baptist Convention

It had already been a long journey and I still had a long set of flights out of Nigeria routing back to the United States. During my visit to the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary in Ogobomso, I met many fine folk. They are indeed doing a tremendous job of engaging lost people with the good news in the midst of horrific conflict posed to the whole nation, and the world, from a violent stream of Islam known as Boko Haram. One of the institution’s administrators accompanied me back to Lagos, Nigeria to fly out. Read More »

For Judson, a Sermon Pointed Him Eastward

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on Baptist Press. For more on Adoniram Judson’s life, read “Adoniram Judson: A Bicentennial Appreciation of the Pioneer American Missionary,” edited by Jason G. Duesing, assistant professor of historical theology vice president for strategic initiatives at Southwestern Seminary.

Adoniram Judson underwent a series of conversions on his journey to the mission field. Read More »

Judson and an Unlikely Missions Candidate

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on Baptist Press, and is adapted from Paige Patterson’s introduction to “Adoniram Judson: A Bicentennial Appreciation of the Pioneer American Missionary,” edited by Jason G. Duesing, assistant professor of historical theology vice president for strategic initiatives at Southwestern Seminary.

My appreciation for the life of Adoniram Judson began in 1957 when my dad, Thomas Armour Patterson, a missionary-hearted pastor, placed a book in my hands and urged that I read it carefully. Read More »

My Hope for ‘Great Commission Baptists’

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Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on Baptist Press alongside an article by Ken Fentress, senior pastor of Montrose Baptist Church in Rockville, Md. Fentress and Patterson, at the four-month point since Southern Baptists embraced “Great Commission Baptists” as an informal name, reflect on the new descriptor. Fentress and Patterson were members of the task force appointed by then-SBC President Bryant Wright to study the possibility of an SBC name change. And both men addressed the SBC Executive Committee’s February 2012 meeting when the task force recommended the option of Southern Baptists being known as “Great Commission Baptists,” which subsequently was approved by messengers at the SBC’s June 19-20 annual meeting in New Orleans. Read More »

The Current SBC Calvinism Debate: Observations, Clarifications, and Suggestions

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Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on the blog SBC Today.

The release of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation,” has engendered a Convention-wide discussion and made nation-wide news. Tongues have been wagging and fingers have been pecking computer keyboards ceaselessly these past few weeks. The Statement has received both acclaim and criticism. In reflecting on the tsunami of words, and as a conversation partner along with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, I have asked the Lord to help me be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. I hope the following thoughts will be helpful as we continue the conversation in the days ahead. By way of brief personal background, I have served the local church for 26 years, 21 of those years as a senior pastor of two churches. I have served two theological institutions in the classroom since 1985. In addition, I served on the Board of Trustees at one of our SBC Seminaries for 12 years. In the interests of full disclosure, I am a signatory of the document. Read More »

How in the World Will We Reach the Antandroy?

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In response to the IMB’s request to adopt an people group, Southwestern has selected the Antandroy of Madagascar. How will Southwestern engage the Antandroy? We’re glad you asked. In partnership with the International Mission Board (IMB), Southwestern is developing a multi-tiered approach to support the missionary endeavors currently in progress as well as to provide fresh “boots on the ground” to reach the Antandroy. Read More »

Happy Southern Baptists and the Tricky Track

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In late 2007, I was asked by the editors of SBC Today to address the relationship between Calvinists and non-Calvinists in the Southern Baptist Convention. The following article was the result and I repost it today as it represents my thoughts and hopes on the matter. While some have lugubrious prognostications as to the current discussion bringing about the demise of our Baptist Zion, I am actually encouraged by it and believe that most of the dialogue is helping to strengthen our theological understanding and shared commitment to reach the 7 billion people on the face of the globe with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Read More »

Throwing Our Hats Over the Wall

Irish writer, Frank O’Connor, told the story of two boys standing beside a tall orchard wall launching a small, felt, round object up in the air like a Frisbee. If you had been there to see them, it would have looked strange—even foolish. With the enthusiasm of a college graduate, one of the boys hurls his hat and you arrive just in time to see it leave the hand of its owner and travel high—up and over an imposing and significant wall. Read More »

In Defense of Radicalism

Editor’s Note: Benjamin Hawkins is a Ph.D. student in church history and historical theology at Southwestern Seminary.

As with the religious radicals of sixteenth-century Europe, the religious radicals of the twenty-first century—it is said—disrupt the equilibrium of society and threaten the enlightened ways of Western civilization. Thus spoke Robert Reich, a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. In 2004 he wrote the following statement in The American Prospect:

Read More »

Paige Patterson’s Address to the Executive Committee of the SBC, Feb. 20, 2012

The following is a transcript of the address given by Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, to the SBC Executive Committee on Feb. 20, 2012, regarding the SBC name change task force, on which Patterson served. To read more comments on the matter from Patterson, click here. To read Baptist Press’ coverage of the task force’s recommendation, click here.

When President Bryant Wright telephoned late last year asking me to serve on a committee to provide counsel to the president about a change in name for our beloved Convention, my initial thought was, “Mr. President, why do you hate me?” My life has been spent, too much of it, in controversy, which contrary to popular wisdom, I thoroughly despise.  In fact, my life verse has become Jeremiah 15:10, Read More »

Adoniram Judson: A Profound Calling

Editor’s Note: On Feb. 19, 1812, newly-weds Adoniram and Ann Judson set sail with others as the first American foreign missionaries. Later this year, B&H will release “Adoniram Judson: A Bicentennial Appreciation of the Pioneer American Missionary,” edited by Jason G. Duesing with contributions from Southwestern Seminary professors. This article is part of a four-part series on Judson’s life and impact.

In some few lives, the temporal kisses the eternal in that their earthly life embraces the truths and calling of heaven. They pour themselves out for others. Such individuals are odd to some because this world seems not to be their home. They are sojourners. To others, they are heroic. Yet, in New Testament terms, they simply live out normal discipleship—denying self and clinging to the cause of the cross. Read More »

Judson’s Spiritual Formation: Sketches from his Pre-Baptist Days

Editor’s Note: On Feb. 19, 1812, newly-weds Adoniram and Ann Judson set sail with others as the first American foreign missionaries. Later this year, B&H will release “Adoniram Judson: A Bicentennial Appreciation of the Pioneer American Missionary,” edited by Jason G. Duesing with contributions from Southwestern Seminary professors. This article is part of a four-part series on Judson’s life and impact.

Often the work of a historian is similar to that of a criminal detective: we are left with a few shreds of evidence in our effort to reconstruct the past. Take for instance Adoniram Judson (1788-1850). While the famed Baptist missionary to Burma left behind many clues to his heroic missionary endeavors, virtually nothing survives from his youthful pre-Baptist days. Yet the bits of evidence we do have from this period point to one, often overlooked, conclusion: that Adoniram Judson’s upbringing and ministerial training occurred in the context of the New Divinity movement. Who were the New Divinity, how was Judson related to them, and what accounts for their missionary fervor? Read More »

A Love that Endures: The Legacy of Ann, Sarah, and Emily Judson

Editor’s Note: On Feb. 19, 1812, newly-weds Adoniram and Ann Judson set sail with others as the first American foreign missionaries. Later this year, B&H will release “Adoniram Judson: A Bicentennial Appreciation of the Pioneer American Missionary,” edited by Jason G. Duesing with contributions from Southwestern Seminary professors. This article is part of a four-part series on Judson’s life and impact.


“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails
,” 1 Cor. 13:7-8a.

Edward Judson, one of the sons of Adoniram and Sarah Judson, remarked, “There are very few of those who have gone out from this country as missionaries who are not indebted to Mr. Judson for his methods and inspiration.”[1] Indeed, Judson’s life and ministry has left an indelible mark not only on Burma, but also on so many missionaries who have surrendered to God’s call. However, Judson’s story is incomplete without a look at the three incredible women who shared the journey with him at different points along the way. Read More »

On Judson’s 200th: Please Go and Dig

Editor’s Note: On Feb. 19, 1812, newly-weds Adoniram and Ann Judson set sail with others as the first American foreign missionaries. Later this year, B&H will release “Adoniram Judson: A Bicentennial Appreciation of the Pioneer American Missionary,” edited by Jason G. Duesing with contributions from Southwestern Seminary professors. This article is part of a four-part series on Judson’s life and impact.

The rocks signified a specific event in Israel’s history. The crossing of the Jordan into the Promised Land—a supernatural event—revealed God acting on behalf of His people to keep His promise, show His faithfulness, and display His might. While the generation who migrated across the divided river would never forget walking through that divinely-made aisle, human nature and subsequent circumstances likely would have prevented those distinct memories from remaining with the next generation. Read More »

How Anabaptists Shaped Rick Warren’s Understanding of the Great Commission & Discipleship

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On Jan. 30-31, Southwestern Seminary held a conference on “Anabaptism and Contemporary Baptists,” which explored the relationship between the Anabaptists of the 16th century and Baptists today. The video below is of the main session with Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., who shared how his study of the Anabaptists shaped his approach to the Great Commission as well as Christian discipleship. Read More »

Are some commands in the Great Commission more important than others?

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A forgotten, but surprisingly prescient, approach to questions regarding the necessity and future of Baptist denominational identity can be gleaned from the words of John A. Broadus (1827-1895) when he addressed the American Baptist Publication Society’s 1881 meeting in Indianapolis.

Broadus, one of the founding professors and later president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s first seminary, titled his sermon “The Duty of Baptists to Teach their Distinctive Views.” This is the second article examining Broadus’s sermon. The first was “Healthy Denominationalism or Denominational Ultraism?”

Broadus, one of the founding professors and later president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s first seminary, titled his sermon “The Duty of Baptists to Teach their Distinctive Views.

Read More »

The Extraordinary Awakening: Why We Celebrate Radical Reformation Day

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On Jan. 30-31, 2012, Southwestern Seminary will host the Anabaptism & Contemporary Baptists Conference, featuring guest speakers Abraham Friesen, Rick Warren, and others. For more information and to register, visit www.swbts.edu/anabaptist.

Radical Reformation Day? Absolutely! But isn’t Reformation Day enough? Absolutely not! While Southwestern Seminary continues to celebrate the biblical progress made during the Protestant Reformation with Reformation Day on October 31, we are compelled to honor the recovery of New Testament Christianity with Radical Reformation Day on January 21. On this day in 1525, after an extended period of intense Bible study in the original languages, a period described by an early chronicler as an “extraordinary awakening and preparation by God,”[1] the first Anabaptists or “Brothers,” as they called themselves, recovered the New Testament practice of baptizing only believers. Read More »

Healthy denominationalism or denominational ultraism?

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A forgotten, but surprisingly prescient, approach to questions regarding the necessity and future of Baptist denominational identity can be gleaned from the words of John A. Broadus (1827-1895) when he addressed the American Baptist Publication Society’s 1881 meeting in Indianapolis.

Broadus, one of the founding professors and later president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s first seminary, titled his sermon “The Duty of Baptists to Teach their Distinctive Views.

In the main portion of his sermon, Broadus listed four specific reasons why Baptists should teach their distinct views:

  • It is a duty we owe to ourselves.
  • It is a duty we owe to our fellow Christians.
  • It is a duty we owe to the unbelieving world.
  • It is a duty we owe to Christ.

Read More »