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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 »

He Didn’t Want to Rush into Ministry Unprepared: Jonathan Edwards and Theological Education

At Southwestern Seminary, where I serve, we regularly underscore our conviction that the call to ministry is a call to prepare. Formal seminary training is not a requirement for ministry or necessarily even a barometer to guarantee a certain level of genuine godliness or qualified fitness. However, to have 3 to 5 years to learn from professors and work out one’s understanding of foundational beliefs is not only a helpful blessing for many toward a long-term ministry of faithfulness, it is also often a form of what I call “structured discipleship” that many of us need before we are in a position of regularly leading others. Read More »

Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History: Jonathan Edwards

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.

Speaking in 1976 to a conference of ministers, London preacher, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, compared “the Puritans to the Alps, Luther and Calvin to the Himalayas, and Jonathan Edwards to Mount Everest.” As the greatest theologian and philosopher in American history, Edwards is certainly a summit worth climbing. However, for all of Edwards’s brilliance and human achievements, there must be something more to the man that transcends from eighteenth century transcontinental leader to twenty-first century t-shirt icon. To be sure, Edwards’s legacy has been assessed, not to mention at least two academic centers (at Yale and at TEDS) and one society dedicated to the study of the Northampton pastor. But for a future generation that knows not Edwards, his call for prayer for revival and the manner in which that call shaped a world missions movement might prove prescient. Read More »

Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History: Balthasar Hubmaier

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.

One man’s noise is another man’s symphony. Indeed, the sirens of Balthasar Hubmaier (1480?-1528) and the Anabaptists clamored in complete cacophony to Huldrich Zwingli and the Swiss Reformer’s idea of a Magisterial Reformation. What is more, most of the historical tradition that followed until the twentieth century agreed with Zwingli that the Anabaptists were disorderly radicals of extreme dissonance. Yet, as William Estep argued, “Anabaptism might well be, outside the Reformation itself, the most influential movement the sixteenth century spawned” for “concepts such as religious liberty and its concomitant, the separation of church and state, may be directly traced to sixteenth century Anabaptism.” George Hunston Williams provided the most extensive treatment showing that not all sixteenth century Anabaptists were a part of a “program for violent destruction of Europe’s religious and social institutions.” Williams identified three groups of Anabaptists: revolutionary, contemplative, and evangelical—with the latter most theologically close to the Magisterial Reformers in terms of their doctrines of the sole authority of Scripture and justification by faith alone. In the doctrine of salvation and especially the doctrine of the church they differed, but never to the point of violence or mass social revolution. Among these evangelical Anabaptists, Balthasar Hubmaier emerged as the chief theologian and spokesman.  Read More »

Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History: John Calvin

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

Karl Barth, a theologian of no small stature, captured the immensity of John Calvin’s life and theology as “something directly down from Himalaya, absolutely Chinese, strange, mythological.” Barth explained, “I lack completely the means, the suction cups, even to assimilate this phenomenon, not to speak of presenting it adequately.” Regularly a topic of controversy, the name John Calvin continues to delight and bewilder, engendering both scowls and smiles. For this article, rather than defend or critique the man based on historic assumptions or contemporary reformulations of the life and thought of Calvin, I am parking my brief assessment at the intersection of two of his chief doctrines that receive little attention: Scripture and the Holy Spirit. Read More »

Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History: Martin Luther

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

Lightning needed only to strike once near the young contemplative Martinus Ludher (1483-1546) to prod him toward conscription to the confines of monasticism. At this point in his life, Luther was beyond the fear of death. Rather, he feared not knowing if he was prepared for death. Shackled by uncertainty, Luther sought freedom in the avenues commonly thought to travel closest to the gates of heaven. Not only did this include departure from his family into seclusion but also any and every form of self-discipline and strict asceticism. Well aware of his many sins, Luther hoped to cross over into the free lands of God’s favor through abandonment from the world. But the more sins he confessed the more sins he found. Like Sisyphus at a new day’s dawn, Luther grew weary and angry at the paradox of an unattainable standard of holiness. With scowls directed toward the distant God he sought to please, the roots of Luther’s fits of frustration bore deep down to a simmering cauldron of ensnaring hatred. Read More »

Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History: Augustine

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

“London remains a vast and exhilarating mystery to me,” said novelist Bill Bryson. Even after living in the United Kingdom for decades he stated that he still found that there were great fragments of London “that I have not just never visited but never heard of.” Indeed, there are some subjects that are so immense that no matter how much one reads or visits there remains more to know and master. Read More »

Seven Summits Worth Climbing in Church History

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on the B&H Academic Blog. The following post introduces a “theological biography” series by Jason Duesing, who serves as vice president for Strategic Initiatives and assistant professor of Historical Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Duesing is the editor of Adoniram Judson: A Bicentennial Appreciation of the Pioneer American Missionary. Subsequent posts in the series will appear approximately every other week. Read More »

After 100 years, Grateful for Carl F. H. Henry, our Once and Future Theologian

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Each semester in my Baptist history classes I require students to write a theological biography of one of ten significant Baptist figures. I always include Carl F. H. Henry on the list, as he remains largely unknown to current students, with the hopes that a few will select him and have their lives changed and challenged. January 22, 2013 marks what would have been the 100th birthday of Carl Ferdinand Howard Henry, someone I like to think of as evangelicals’ and Baptists’ “once and future theologian.” Read More »

Nailed to a Bed of Pain: Lessons on Life and Death from John Donne

“God never uses a man greatly until he hurts him deeply.” So said A. W. Tozer. Few men can attest to this truth like John Donne, the 17th century English preacher, poet, and Dean of St. Paul’s Church in London from 1621 until his death in 1631. Today Donne is more known for his poetry than for his preaching, but he was a master at both. Oddly, Donne lay in virtual obscurity for the average person until the first quarter of the 20th century when T.S. Eliot’s recommendation that Donne be published anew catapulted him into the status of a major English poet. Read More »

Teenagers, Revival, and the American Church

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Is an awakening to Christ possible in your church and youth ministry? Absolutely. That is exactly what the Father has been orchestrating among believers down through the centuries and today.

Awakening is a church saturated with the supremacy of Christ by the Spirit of Christ. God floods His church with fresh hope, passion, prayer, and mission by refocusing believers on Christ for all He really is. The awakening then spills into the community and cannot be stopped. 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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »