Archive for May, 2008

Modesty: Wisdom from CJ Mahaney

May 7th, 2008 Posted in 21st Century

Here is an excellent post on modesty by CJ Mahaney: Modesty: A Word to Fathers (pt. 5).

HT: Tim Kerr.

A Cat’s Theology

May 7th, 2008 Posted in Uncategorized

Cats like my Chai
Like tickles and petting
Not theology-vetting
Nor pundits retting
The Bible loose
From its mooring.

But then—
His theology is better
Than Bultmann’s
Or Hermann’s,
Those radical Germans,
For his Maker he “knows.”

Michael A.G. Haykin ©2008.

Restoring Integrity in Baptist Churches: A Book Review

May 6th, 2008 Posted in Baptist Life & Thought

A recent collection of essays on the various details of Baptist polity deserves a wide reading. It is Thomas White, Jason B. Duesing, and Malcolm Yarnell, III, eds., Restoring Integrity in Baptist Churches (Kregel, 2008). I have found it a gold-mine of informed reflection on such things as the meaning and mode of baptism, the nature of the Lord’s Table, the necessity of a regenerate church membership, and the vital importance of church discipline. And believe it or not, what I found as important as the content of the articles were the riches in the footnotes.

My hearty commendation of this work does not mean that I concur with all of the sentiments and convictions expressed. I was surprised that Thomas White, for instance, affirmed that the Calvin’s view of the spiritual presence of Christ at the table “has not found favour among Baptists” (p.148). Actually, during the 18th century—those halcyon days of Baptist advance—the spiritual presence of Christ dominated Baptist convictions about the Table. See, for instance, this blogger’s “ ‘His soul-refreshing presence’: The Lord’s Supper in Calvinistic Baptist Thought and Experience in the ‘Long’ Eighteenth Century” in Anthony R. Cross and Philip E. Thompson, eds., Baptist Sacramentalism (Studies in Baptist History and Thought, vol.5; Carlisle, Cumbria, U.K./Waynesboro, Georgia: Paternoster Press, 2003), p.177-93. But this is a minor blemish in an otherwise excellent essay.

On the other hand, I was thrilled to see the point—for some, minor—made by Malcolm Yarnell that Nicene Christology went hand in hand with the affirmation of the church’s independence of the state and his drawing upon some articles of George Hunston Williams to make his point (p.235-36 and n.44). I have never forgotten reading those articles in the late 1970s and being convinced of the same.

All in all, it would be very difficult to single out an essay or essays in the book that was or were better than the others. This is rare. Usually, a collection of essays like this suffers from an uneven quality of content and argument. Not so here, I felt. White, Duesing, and Yarnell have produced an excellent compendium of contemporary—yet fully biblical—reflection on Baptist polity that every Baptist pastor would do well to read, study, and ponder, and that every Baptist seminary should use as required reading in their courses in Baptist history and polity.

Dr Nettles in Southern Ontario

May 5th, 2008 Posted in 21st Century

Kirk Wellum (Post Graduation Reflections ) has a good reflection on this past weekend of ministry in southern Ontario by Tom Nettles, Professor of Historical Theology at Southern, where I am teaching. His message on Sunday evening, which was on 1 John 5:18-21, I found particularly memorable: it was so rich and powerful.

Thesis Topics on “Long” 18th Century Baptists from England: A Dozen

May 5th, 2008 Posted in 18th Century

What of some topics in 18th century Baptist life and thought then? Here are 12—I have another dozen at least!

  1. The piety of Anne Steele as reflected in her hymnody or that of Anne Dutton in her writings (many of the latter are now published)
  2. The life and ministry of Caleb Evans—vital figure but little done on him besides a great work by Roger Hayden that deals with him along with his father and Foskett of Bristol
  3. Daniel Turner as a theological author—nothing that I know of has been done on Turner
  4. The doctrine of baptism in 18th century Calvinistic Baptist circles
  5. John Foster: the ministry of his pen—a completely neglected figure
  6. John Foster’s Calvinism
  7. The Christology of Robert Hall, Jr.—a very important figure, transitional in some ways
  8. Joseph Kinghorn’s Christology—a neglected favourite of mine
  9. The exegesis of the gospels in 18th century Baptist authors
  10. Benjamin Beddome as a preacher—another of my favourites
  11. The life and ministry of Samuel Medley
  12. The Stennetts: biblical fidelity across five generations from Edward to Samuel’s children—a good place to do some social history

Possible Topics for Theses in 17th-Century Puritanism

May 4th, 2008 Posted in 17th Century, Puritans, Uncategorized

Mark Jones, a dear brother, who is doing a fine dissertation on Thomas Goodwin’s Christology, has a list of potential PhD and MA theses. Excellent ideas: Possible Thesis Studies (17thC). I should add at some point a similar list for Baptists!

William Carey’s “Sweet Pleasure”

May 4th, 2008 Posted in William Carey

Again, John Appleby and his biography of Carey: ‘I Can Plod…’ William Carey and the early years of the first Baptist missionary Society (London: Grace Publications Trust, 2007). This time I was impressed by a partial sentence from one of Appleby’s quotes from Carey. The Baptist missionary is writing back to England in January, 1795, and comments about his friendship with Andrew Fuller, John Ryland, Jr., John Sutcliff, and Samuel Pearce:

“I am fully satisfied of the firmness of their friendship that I feel a sweet pleasure in writing to them…” (cited p.109).

Does this not lie at the heart of most successful Gospel ministries? The bonds of friendship that unite co-workers in great ventures for God are markedly present in so many great turning points in Church History. So it was with Paul and his apostolic band, the Cappadocian Fathers, Augustine and his band of brothers at Hippo Regius, Columbanus and his fellow Celts tramping through Merovingian Gaul, and Calvin and his friends during the Reformation.

From one perspective, these bonds uniting co-workers in the Gospel are a pale imitation of the ontological and social bonds uniting the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. And so we should not be surprised that friendships in God and for God are common to great advances of Gospel truth.

Radical Christianity: William Carey and a New Biography by John Appleby

May 4th, 2008 Posted in William Carey

I never tire of reading about William Carey (1761-1834) and his circle of friends. So it was with a sense of excitement that I bought the latest biography of Carey by John Appleby, who, like Carey, has served in India: ‘I Can Plod…’ William Carey and the early years of the first Baptist missionary Society (London: Grace Publications Trust, 2007).

It is a study I would definitely recommend as a reliable introduction to Carey’s life by one who shares not only his ecclesial convictions but also his soteriological beliefs—both biographer and subject are Calvinists. I was struck afresh by some of the things that Appleby pointed out, including this note in the minute book of the Particular Baptist Church at Leicester that Carey served before going out to India—this is dated March 24, 1793:

“Mr. Carey, our minister, left Leicester to on a mission to the East Indies, to take and propagate the gospel among those idolatrous and superstitious heathens. This is inserted to show his love to his poor miserable fellow creatures. In this we concurred with him, though it is at the expense of losing one whom we love as our own souls.” (cited page 99).

Wow, what a text! Here is radical Christianity at work, both in Carey who went and in his church that stayed at home. His love for fellow sinners took him half-way around the world. Their love for sinners sent him out with their blessing. Some might say, their love was hardly as radical as Carey’s. Really? No, think again: here is one they loved as their own souls—the sort of love that marked Jonathan and David—whose love for one another knit them together like thread in a garment. And then to let go of the beloved. No, this is an expression of radical Christianity.

And why did he go and why did they send him? It was love: love for sinners who, like him and they, were “poor” and “miserable” without Christ. Creatures who were worshipping the creature rather than the Creator: the people of India, like the godless in Great Britain at the time, were “idolatrous.” The difference was that in the UK the Scriptures were available in English, there were gospel-preaching churches and there were faithful ministers of the Word. But India had little or none of this.

We live in a day when some are calling for new radical expressions of Christianity, in which Christ is wholeheartedly served as Lord. This is needed, but what should form should it take? Well, one good model is Carey and his Leicester Church.