Friday, November 30, 2007

The Reformed Renewal Among Baptists

Clint Humfrey is a former professor of New Testament Greek at Toronto Baptist Seminary and currently serves as pastor of Calvary Grace Church in Calgary, Alberta. He has written an interesting November 12 article entitled The Reformed Renewal on his Cowboyology Blog. I thought this blog's readers might find it interesting as well. Here is the article in its entirety:


The Reformed Renewal
Yesterday in Sunday School I offered a brief history of Calvinistic Baptists, including the main North American streams in existence today. I summarized the streams as follows:

1. The Neo-Evangelical Stream
Leading Example:
John Piper

Characteristics: Calvinistic convictions arrived at from within the broad mainstream Neo-evangelical ethos.

2. The Dispensational Stream
Leading Example:
John Macarthur

Characteristics: Calvinistic conclusions arrived at out of the generally '3-4 point Calvinist' circles of 'Dallas' dispensationalism.

3. The Fundamentalist Stream
Leading Example:
Spiritual heirs of TT Shields
Characteristics: Distinguished from other Fundamentalists by Calvinism and at times non- Premillenial eschatology. Yet still Fundamental in ethos and association (cf. Paisley in N. Ireland, Bob Jones University, etc.)

4. The Reformed Baptist Stream
Leading Example:
Al Martin, Tom Ascol
Characteristics: Often connected with Presbyterians, possessing the same view of the Law's implication for Christian living, particularly in the form of Sabbatarianism, and 10 commandments as normative for Christians.

5.The New Covenant Reformed Baptist Stream
Leading Example:
John Reisinger

Characteristics: Derived from the Reformed Baptist stream, but broke away from those circles over disagreement about Sabbatarianism and the relation of the Law to the Christian. Tended to emphasize a more Christocentric view of the Law (i.e. Law is fulfilled in Christ entirely, therefore the idea of Sunday as equivalent to a Jewish Sabbath is incorrect). Can draw from Progressive Dispensational circles as well as other eschatological perspectives.
There is often overlap between these different streams, and many Calvinistic Baptists would not be associated with any of them in a formal way. However the influence of the various teachers in these streams has had a significant impact within the broader Reformed Renewal of the 20th and early 21st century. To the reader I ask, 'In what stream do you find yourself?'

So, what do you all think? Do you think these are helpful or accurate categories? Do they reflect your own experience of the Reformed Baptist community?

P.S. Thanks to Nathan White on the Reformed Baptist Discussion List for bringing this article to my attention.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Are You Feeling Weighed Down?

This picture reminded me of how we can all sometimes feel. We can all feel as though we are weighed down with a heavy burden, and, try as we might, we just can't seem to get anywhere. I have found at times like these I am generally feeling this way because I have begun to operate in the flesh, depending too much on my own strength rather than upon Christ.

At such times I need to cry out to God in prayer, humbly recognizing that He alone is the source of all my strength and of anything good in me. And I try to remember a few key Scriptures that invariably see me through. I hope some of these scriptures will help to any of you who are feeling burdened and overwhelmed today!

NKJ Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

NKJ Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

NKJ 1 Peter 5:6-7 6 "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."

What keeps us from coming to Christ with our burdens, so that we may carry them through His strength? Well, Peter assumes it can be nothing more - and nothing less - than pride. He assumes that truly casting our cares upon Him requires that we humble ourselves under His mighty hand. Could it be that we are more like a mule - although not the poor creature in the picture - than we want to admit sometimes? Too stubborn to really rely on God in everything?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

On October 3, 1789, in his first year in office, George Washington signed the first proclamation of thanksgiving by a U.S. President. If you click on the image at the left, you can read the original text as it was published in the The Massachusetts Centinel on Wednesday, October 14, 1789.

In case this old newspaper abstract is difficult to read, here is the text of that decree:

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houfes of Congress have, by their joint committee, requefted me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to eftablifh a form of government for their safety and happiness:" NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and affign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of thefe States to the fervice of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our fincere and humble thanksfor His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the fignal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpofitions of His providence in the courfe and conclufion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have fince enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to eftablish Conftitutions of government for our fafety and happinefs, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are bleffed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffufing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleafed to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in moft humbly offering our prayers and fupplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and befeech Him to pardon our national and other tranfgreffions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private ftations, to perform our feveral and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a bleffing to all the people by conftantly being a Government of wife, juft, and conftitutional laws, difcreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all fovereigns and nations (especially fuch as have shewn kindnefs unto us); and to blefs them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increafe of fcience among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind fuch a degree of temporal profperity as he alone knows to be beft.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand feven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

PastorThroop.com Back Online With Finalweb

Many of you have wondered where my website went over the past few weeks. Well, I was in the process of transferring to a new host provider and building an entirely new site - which is still in process - but I am happy to announce that the domain transfer finally went through and I am back up and running.

I chose to go with Finalweb as my new provider, and their website building software, well developed church & ministry package, and fabulous support have made the change as pleasant as could be. In fact, I don't think I have found better support anywhere. They even offered free support while I was taking it for a test drive with their free 14 day trial. For example, during the trial time I found that there was a problem with downloading topic notes files for e-Sword that I had uploaded to the server. Their software apparently didn't like the '.top' extension. Well, I called the technical support team and they had the problem fixed before the trial time was even concluded! I think it was just a few days later that I tried it, and it worked.

On that note, for all you e-Sword users that liked to download the many Reformed resources I previously made available on my website, I assure you they will all be back soon. I am in the process of uploading them all (and more) as soon as possible.

Anyway, I cannot recommend Finalweb highly enough. And, for any other Shepherds' Fellowship members, you can receive a significant discount.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Monthly "What is a Reformed Baptist?" Poll Update

It is the fourth month running this poll, and there continues to be well over half of those responding (61%) who do not think strict adherence to the Baptist Confession of 1689 is necessary to being a Reformed Baptist. Here is the breakdown thus far (found at the bottom of the page):

19% thought that one only had to be a Baptist who held to Calvinistic soteriology.

34% thought that one must be a Baptist who holds to Calvinism and Covenant Theology.

39% thought that one must be a Baptist who holds to the 1689 Confession.

6% thought that one must hold to the 1689 Confession for the most part, but thought that this should not have to include adherence to the Sabbath requirement.

The sample from which this is taken is still pretty small at this point, but I remain hopeful that I may be able to get several hundred responses to the poll over the course of the poll's one year lifespan. There are 245 days left, so if you haven't responded yet, scroll down to the bottom of the page and weigh in.

P.S. Some of you may have noticed that the percentages Blogger lists don't always add up to 100. This appears to be due to Blogger's rounding the numbers up or down. But the tallies still give us a pretty good idea where things are. At the end of the year, I will figure the percentages more accurately.

Friday, November 09, 2007

National Do Not Call List Registration Renewal

Recently I received a notice from my Republican Congressman, Tim Johnson, reminding me that it is time to again sign up with the National Do Not Call Registry. Here is the message I received from Congressman Johnson:

An Important Message form Congressman Johnson..

Remember those annoying telemarketing calls? It never failed. Just as we were sitting down to dinner or beginning an important discussion, the phone would ring. Congress took action by passing legislation to eliminate those unwanted telemarketing calls by establishing the National Do Not Call Registry. Telephone numbers voluntarily registered are off limits to unwanted telemarketing calls for 5 years. For many numbers, the five year period is expiring shortly. I am co-sponsoring legislation House Resolution 3541 to automatically extend the no call
period for five more years. However, the legislation is facing stiff resistance from special interest groups. That is why, I am asking you to take a few moments and follow these simple steps to renew your registration.

To Register with the National Do Not Call List

Simply follow these steps:

From you computer

1) access http://www.donotcall.gov/
2) move the cursor to Register Now and click
3) type in your number and area code
4) type in your email address and confirm
5) click on Submit
6) verify your information, then click on Register
7) when you receive your email response from the registry, simply open and click on link

From you telephone

1) call the toll free number 1-888-382-1222
2) select desired language
3) press #1
4) enter phone number (you must call from the number you are registering)
5) press #1

I was registered the first time around and was so pleased not to be getting all those sales calls. I jumped at the chance to register again, and I would encourage the blog's readers to do so as well... unless you like to be interrupted by telemarketing calls all the time! Just thought you all might want to get in on a good thing.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Updated Blog Articles

Given the speed with which I usually have to write and post the various blog articles, I thought it best to go back and review a few of them. In the process, I have done some editing to my article entitled Defense of a Conscious Intermediate State as well as to my series responding to the House-Church Movement.

The changes are pretty minor. I have fixed a few typos here and there and have clarified a few ambiguous points. For those who have made use of these articles, you may want to check out the latest versions.

As the one who owns the copyright to all that I have written on this blog, I of course reserve the right to revise my own work when I deem it necessary or beneficial to the blog's readers. Also, in any case where I have discovered an error in what I have written or have been shown to be wrong on some point, I will change it and let the blog's readers know, or I will post a retraction.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Six Televangelists Subjects of Senate Probe

CBS News has reported today that Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Finance Committee, has asked for financial statements and records from six high-profile televangelists in order to investigate them for possible illegalities. Here is a section from the CBS report entitled "Senate Panel Probes 6 Top Televangelists":

CBS News has learned Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is investigating six prominent televangelist ministries for possible financial misconduct.
Letters were sent Monday to the ministries demanding that financial statements and records be turned over to the committee by December 6th.
According to Grassley's office, the Iowa Republican is trying to determine whether or not these ministries are improperly using their tax-exempt status as churches to shield lavish lifestyles.
The six ministries identified as being under investigation by the committee are led by: Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn. Three of the six - Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar - also sit on the Board of Regents for the Oral Roberts University.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Band of Bloggers


As announced at the Said at Southern blog, "the 2008 Band of Bloggers fellowship will take place during lunch (11:30-1:30) on Tuesday, April 14, 2008 at the Galt House in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Guest speakers and panelists for the event include Tim Challies, Justin Taylor, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Mark Lauterbach .... The theme for next year’s conference, 'The Gospel Trust,' will focus on what it means to be servants of God and stewards entrusted with the gospel of Jesus Christ."
You may find out more about the Band of Bloggers at their website. Here is a description from their About page:

Together.

For the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Band of Bloggers was started with a vision and collaborative effort to unite bloggers who have a passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ. It carries with it a desire that the gospel be normative in our lives, central in our writing, and powerful in our witness to the world. The first Band of Bloggers fellowship developed when several bloggers who were attending the 2006 Together for the Gospel Conference discussed the possibility of holding a meeting to encourage one another to live and write with a gospel-centered emphasis. Within a matter of weeks, the idea had blossomed to an event with a panel of speakers–Justin Taylor, Tim Challies, Dr. Albert Mohler, and Dr. Russell Moore–and a gathering of more than 70 bloggers hosted by The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The meeting served to compliment the thrust of the conference, viz. to come together for the sake of the gospel in this generation.

The second Band of Bloggers fellowship is slated to take place in 2008, again in concert with the Together for the Gospel Conference. This year’s theme, “The Gospel Trust,” focuses on what it means to be entrusted as servants of God and stewards of His glorious gospel. During the period of time leading up to the 2008 Band of Bloggers fellowship, we will endeavor to fuel a greater passion for the gospel of the glory of Christ through resources, articles, and media (including podcasts).

As we seek to facilitate discussion and foster gospel-driven lives and blogs, we encourage you to join in and share this vision with others. For comments, questions, or to contact us, please email to thegospeltrust@gmail.com.
Lord willing, I will be in attendance this year. Perhaps I will meet some of you there?
As someone who is new to the blogging experience, I hope to gain much from my more experienced fellow-bloggers about how to more faithfully serve Christ and the Gospel through my blogging efforts.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Free Audio Download of Jonathan Edwards' Religious Affections

This month's free audio download at ChristianAudio.com is Jonathan Edwards' classic Religious Affections: How Man's Will Affects His Character Before God. Here is a lengthy excerpt from the beginning of the book, "Part 1: Concerning the Nature of the Affections and Their Importance in Religion":

1 Peter 1:8: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

In these words, the apostle represents the state of the minds of the Christians he wrote to, under the persecutions they were then the subjects of. These persecutions are what he has respect to, in the two preceding verses, when he speaks of the trial of their faith, and of their being in heaviness through manifold temptations.

Such trials are of threefold benefit to true religion. Hereby the truth of it is manifested, and it appears to be indeed true religion; they, above all other things, have a tendency to distinguish between true religion and false, and to cause the difference between them evidently to appear. Hence they are called by the name of trials, in the verse nextly preceding the text, and in innumerable other places; they try the faith and religion of professors, of what sort it is, as apparent gold is tried
in the fire, and manifested, whether it be true gold or no. And the faith of true Christians being thus tried and proved to be true, is "found to praise, and honor, and glory," as in that preceding verse.

And then, these trials are of further benefit to true religion; they not only manifest the truth of it, but they make its genuine beauty and amiableness remarkably to appear. True virtue never appears so lovely, as when it is most oppressed; and the divine excellency of real Christianity, is never exhibited with such advantage, as when under the greatest trials: then it is that true faith appears much more precious than gold! And upon this account is "found to praise, and honor, and glory."

And again, another benefit that such trials are of to true religion, is, that they purify and increase it. They not only manifest it to be true, but also tend to refine it, and deliver it from those mixtures of that which is false, which encumber and impede it; that nothing may be left but that which is true. They tend to cause the amiableness of true religion to appear to the best advantage, as was before observed; and not only so, but they tend to increase its beauty, by establishing and confirming it, and making it more lively and vigorous, and purifying it from those things that obscured its luster and glory. As gold that is tried in the fire, is purged from its alloy, and all remainders of dross, and comes forth more solid and beautiful; so true faith being tried as gold is tried in the fire, becomes more precious, and thus also is "found unto
praise, and honor, and glory." The apostle seems to have respect to each of these benefits, that persecutions are of to true religion, in the verse preceding the text.

And, in the text, the apostle observes how true religion operated in the Christians he wrote to, under their persecutions, whereby these benefits of persecution appeared in them; or what manner of operation of true religion, in them, it was, whereby their religion, under persecution, was manifested to be true religion, and eminently appeared in the genuine beauty and amiableness of true religion, and also appeared to be increased and purified, and so was like to be "found unto praise, and honor, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” And there were two kinds of operation, or exercise of true religion, in them, under their sufferings, that the apostle takes notice of in the text, wherein these benefits appeared.

1. Love to Christ: "Whom having not yet seen, ye love." The world was ready to wonder, what strange principle it was, that influenced them to expose themselves to so great sufferings, to forsake the things that were seen, and renounce all that was dear and pleasant, which was the object of sense. They seemed to the men of the world about them, as though they were beside themselves, and to act as though they hated themselves; there was nothing in their view, that could induce them thus to suffer, and support them under, and carry them through such trials. But although there was nothing that was seen, nothing that the world saw, or that the Christians themselves ever saw with their bodily eyes, that thus influenced and supported them, yet they had a supernatural principle of love to something unseen; they loved Jesus Christ, for they saw him spiritually whom the world saw not, and whom they themselves had never seen with bodily eyes.

2. Joy in Christ. Though their outward sufferings were very grievous, yet their inward spiritual joys were greater than their sufferings; and these supported them, and enabled them to suffer with cheerfulness.

There are two things which the apostle takes notice of in the text concerning this joy. 1. The manner in which it rises, the way in which Christ, though unseen, is the foundation of it, viz., by faith; which is the evidence of things not seen: "In whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice." 2. The nature of this joy; "unspeakable and full of glory." Unspeakable in the kind of it; very different from worldly joys, and carnal delights; of a vastly more pure, sublime, and heavenly nature, being something supernatural, and truly divine, and so ineffably excellent; the sublimity and exquisite sweetness of which, there were no words to set forth.
Unspeakable also in degree; it pleasing God to give them this holy joy, with a liberal hand, and in large measure, in their state of persecution.

Their joy was full of glory. Although the joy was unspeakable, and no words were sufficient to describe it, yet something might be said of it, and no words more fit to represent its excellency than these, that it was full of glory; or, as it is in the original, glorified joy. In rejoicing with this joy, their minds were filled, as it were, with a glorious brightness, and their natures exalted and perfected. It was a most worthy, noble rejoicing, that did not corrupt and debase the mind, as many carnal joys do; but did greatly beautify and dignify it; it was a prelibation of the joy of heaven, that raised their minds to a degree of heavenly blessedness; it filled their minds with the light of God's glory, and made themselves to shine with some communication of that glory.

Hence the proposition or doctrine, that I would raise from these words, is this:

DOCTRINE. True religion, in great part, consists in holy affections.

Do you want to read more... or hear more? Then get your free download from ChristianAudio.com to hear this life-changing book explain the Scriptural teaching on the importance holy affections in the Christian life.