Featured Articles

Theological Matters

Theological Insights from Southwestern

Jason Duesing

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

judson_ship

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

ets-prog-cover

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?

church

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 »

Are unbelievers most helped by believers who trust the Bible?

church

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 »

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

CFHHenry

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 »

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 »

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 »

Pilgram Marpeck: Christian Baptism is a Witness

baptism1

As Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary prepares to host its conference celebrating the Anabaptist Movement on January 30-31, 2012, Jason G. Duesing presents his synthesis of Pilgram Marpeck’s (d. 1556) view of believer’s baptism in his five-part series, “Pilgram Marpeck’s Christian Baptism.”

In Marpeck’s Confession, he contrasts the reasonableness of infant baptism based on circumcision with the simplicity of faith in Christ. Where paedo-baptizer’s appeal to a sign of the Old Covenant, Christian baptism is a witness of the believer’s New Covenant faith.[1] Indeed, this is a major theme for Marpeck as it appears in all of his writings on the subject. It is in the midst of this that Marpeck reveals two aspects of Christian baptism as a witness. Read More »

Pilgram Marpeck: Christian Baptism always leads to a new life

baptism1

As Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary prepares to host its conference celebrating the Anabaptist Movement on January 30-31, 2012, Jason G. Duesing presents his synthesis of Pilgram Marpeck’s (d. 1556) view of believer’s baptism in his five-part series, “Pilgram Marpeck’s Christian Baptism.”

Marpeck believes Christian baptism should have an everlasting effect on the life of the Christian and on the life of the church. With regard to the Christian, Marpeck starts again with Matt 28, “Christ says, with reference to baptism, that we are to baptize them in the name of God (Matt 28:19). It is the same as if He would say, ‘baptize them in such a way that they may call upon the name of God and remain in God.’”[1] Remaining in God, for Marpeck, is the result of a life transaction through which the Christian undergoes upon conversion. Read More »

Pilgram Marpeck: Infant Baptism, of any kind, is not Christian Baptism

baptism1

As Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary prepares to host its conference celebrating the Anabaptist Movement on January 30-31, 2012, Jason G. Duesing presents his synthesis of Pilgram Marpeck’s (d. 1556) view of believer’s baptism in his five-part series, “Pilgram Marpeck’s Christian Baptism.”

Pilgram Marpeck recognizes that among those who practiced infant baptism there were two kinds. On one hand, there were the Roman Catholics who “practice idolatry when they vest their salvation in baptism.”[1] On the other hand, there were the Magisterial Reformers who “baptize, not out of faith, but out of uncertainty.”[2] Marpeck cuts plainly through them both by maintaining that “Scripture speaks only of one conscious, confessed, and acknowledged baptism based on faith. It does not speak of baptism of unconscious people.”[3] Read More »

Pilgram Marpeck: Christian Baptism follows a Christ-established order

baptism1

As Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary prepares to host its conference celebrating the Anabaptist Movement on January 30-31, 2012, Jason G. Duesing presents his synthesis of Pilgram Marpeck’s (d. 1556) view of believer’s baptism in his five-part series, “Pilgram Marpeck’s Christian Baptism.”

The essence of Marpeck’s critique of infant baptism can be summarized by seeing the practice as a failure to follow Christ’s command.[1] Marpeck believes that this command of Christ, found in Matthew 28, contains more than just instructions, but also a specific order for baptismal practice.[2] For Marpeck’s immediate audience, this was an important point of clarification as there were many Spiritualists who claimed that with the death of the Apostles there were no longer any pertinent commands in Scripture concerning baptism.[3] Read More »

Pilgram Marpeck’s Christian Baptism

baptism1

As Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary prepares to host its conference celebrating the Anabaptist Movement on January 30-31, 2012, Jason G. Duesing presents his synthesis of Pilgram Marpeck’s (d. 1556) view of believer’s baptism in his five-part series, “Pilgram Marpeck’s Christian Baptism.”

Pilgram Marpeck (d. 1556) was the second most influential theologian among the evangelical Anabaptist movement.[1] In his recent work, The Formation of Christian Doctrine, Malcolm Yarnell concludes that “At the theological headwaters of the believers’ church movement stands [Pilgram Marpeck’s] theological method …. On this foundation and from these principles are derived the free churches’ understanding of the proper development of doctrine.”[2] Rollin Armour considers Pilgram Marpeck to have “articulated perhaps the most thoughtful interpretation of baptism among the Anabaptists.”[3] Considering that unlike most Anabaptist theologians Marpeck served as a civil magistrate and not a cleric, Armour’s words are significant.[4] Harold Bender describes Marpeck’s life as “a good illustration of the transition from Catholicism via Lutheranism to Anabaptism” in that he moved directly from one tradition to the next as directed by the Scriptures.[5] Pilgram Marpeck was “loyally Biblical [sic]” not only in his daily life, but also his theological life, especially in the development of his theology of baptism.[6] Read More »

Testimony: Why Chapel Is So Critical to the Life of a Seminary

MacGormanChapel-night

Since the first seminary was founded in this country in 1808, seminaries have held chapel services. By the twentieth century, virtually all denominations had their own seminary or seminaries—and while all of them had chapel services, not all were effective or meaningful. One 1934 study revealed, for example, that what a seminary president chooses to do with a chapel service proves to make a world of difference in the spiritual life and formation of its students. For the seminaries that presented dry, formal services full of perfunctory rituals and “brief talks” from faculty, many students resisted and chose not to attend. One student commented, “Most of the chapel talks by professors are hardly worth hearing. They sound like random comments made on the spur of the moment, or worse, like condensations of old sermons.”[1] However, for schools that have sought to use the chapel service as a central part of their spiritual life, the chapel service has been used of God demonstrably and effectively for great things. Read More »

Learning Humility through Church History, The Work of God in History

church-history-humility-workofGod

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series on “Learning Humility through Church History” by Jason Duesing, vice president for strategic initiatives and assistant professor of historical theology at Southwestern Seminary. To read other articles in this series, click here.

While not everyone called of God is able to attend college or seminary, I am thankful that colleges and seminaries exist and even now many are studying the work of God in the history of the churches for the first time. Read More »

Learning Humility through Church History, Lesson 7: A Humble Stand for Truth

church-history-humility-71

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series on “Learning Humility through Church History” by Jason Duesing, vice president for strategic initiatives and assistant professor of historical theology at Southwestern Seminary. To read other articles in this series, click here.

The study of the history of Christianity encourages one humbly to stand for truth in a way that draws attention to the treasures of wisdom and knowledge found in Christ and not in one’s self (Col. 2:3). I once heard someone define “encourage” as the act of putting “courage in” someone else. Read More »

Learning Humility through Church History, Lesson 6: A Desire to Serve the Churches

church-history-humility-61

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series on “Learning Humility through Church History” by Jason Duesing, vice president for strategic initiatives and assistant professor of historical theology at Southwestern Seminary. To read other articles in this series, click here.

The study of the history of Christianity should drive the child of God to desire to serve the churches of God. The thread of continuity that runs throughout history is the work of God to preserve his church (Matt. 16:18). God’s plan is bigger than, although it certainly involves, individualized ministries. Our Lord has designated his churches as the vehicles to carry out the Great Commission. The barometer of faithfulness in Christian ministry is judged not by what one may bring as an individual to the work of the kingdom, but rather what one contributes as a servant in the churches of the kingdom. Read More »

Learning Humility through Church History, Lesson 5: Eliminating Naiveté

church-history-humility-51

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series on “Learning Humility through Church History” by Jason Duesing, vice president for strategic initiatives and assistant professor of historical theology at Southwestern Seminary. To read other articles in this series, click here.

The study of the history of Christianity eliminates naiveté and surprise at the actions of humanity. The regular encounter with the proceedings of men and women in the past allows one to see that there truly is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9). As a result, the student is warned that not only do all heroes have faults and sin, but also that those same faults and propensity to sin resides within the one seeing and learning. Read More »

Learning Humility through Church History, Lesson 4: A Proper Perspective on One’s Trials

church-history-humility-41

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series on “Learning Humility through Church History” by Jason Duesing, vice president for strategic initiatives and assistant professor of historical theology at Southwestern Seminary. To read other articles in this series, click here.

The study of the history of Christianity gives proper perspective to the relative significance of one’s trials. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said in his sermon on Psalm 73 that the study of church history helps us “begin to understand that some of the greatest saints that have ever adorned the life of the Church have experienced trials and troubles and tribulations which cause our little problem[s] to pale into insignificance.” When one reads of the injustices and persecutions faced by the Free-church believers in early seventeenth-century London, somehow the anxieties of life brought on by the complexities of what Neil Postman called the “all-instant society” do not seem as distressing. Seeing one’s burdens against the backdrop of what others have endured can only help bring humility. Read More »