Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Baptist History Celebration - Plenary 1

I love walking into old churches like this one. This church was established in 1682 - the “Mother Church” of the SBC. The pews have doors on them (the pastor – Marshall Blalock – joked that they went “seeker friendly” and took the latches off the door). It is from back in the day when people bought their pews. It sounds very similar to typical Baptist churches today – when visitors come in for the first time. They sit down just to find out later they are sitting in “so and so’s” pew. How dare they? May we ever be mindful of guests in our churches – not be so hung up on where we sit and who sits next to us. The gospel and the lost should be more important.

Profile: John Gill

“A man of great importance to all of us” – D. Martin Lloyd-Jones.

Fame by way of many books: commentaries, theological works, and expository works. He had a keen recognition of learning and insatiable craving for learning. He had a substantial library (I think he could have passed Patterson’s “law” that you had to graduate SEBTS with 1500 volumes). He was also a pious man. This was the fruit of his study of – “his name would carry little weight”. The more people study God – the less they should become. Learning Christ should make us more humble in our state – knowing that we are but sinners saved by grace. “It should be experientially transforming. Where there is no transformation, there is no real study of theology.”

Profile: John Gano

The words of Christ’s mercy hung on his very being – until he was enabled to rejoice in Christ. He was called to a “sacred trust” – to preach the gospel. George Washington had two requests of him – of which he complied:
He baptized the above future President.
He dismissed the armies with a prayer of thanksgiving – at the close of the Revolutionary War.

Baptist Hymnody: 17th Century British Baptist Influence on Baptists in the New WorldBenjamin Keach – one of the highlighted hymnists
A reformed Baptist pastor in London for many years – a church that later became the Metropolitan under Spurgeon. He was driven by the conviction that change was needed to bring life into a lifeless congregation. He wanted to sing hymns; thus he was the first proponent of congregational hymn singing. He published a book of hymns and a really long-titled book about singing hymns being an ordinance. Many of his hymns were so “in your face” that they never made it into modern hymnbooks. (Lest we be convicted when we sing songs!)
Joachim Neander – “If with his love He befriend thee.” – what a great line out of Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.
Paul Gerhardt Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me – what an amazing true hymn (I’ve never sung) dealing with idolatry – or the want of none in our lives.

Now, the main speaker: William Brackney: professor at Acadia Seminary in Canada.
Organizational History of the Baptists
Three main thoughts: (remember theology is usually somewhat shaped by social issues at the time – so think of what is going on in these regions during these years).
Diverse theological beginnings over seas in 17th Century. Two main sects (but with some smaller): Generals (keen on relationship with dissenters and Church of England) and Particulars (holding to reformed thought and these showed up in the confessionals of that day).

Diverse in American colonies in 17th Century (thinking of course of many coming to this country to gain religious freedom – thinking for themselves but no doubt bringing with them traditions they held in England). Baptists or Anabaptists: individuals, missionaries, and congregations. No American regional confessions from the 17th century – these come later in the institionalization.
18th Century – diversity became institutionalized. Mainly the Philadelphia Convention – influential in the region. Doctrine and church order – followed the example of Keach in London. (This meeting is being held in honor of the 300th Anniversary of the Philadelphia Association).

Application for today:
Be welcoming to outsiders (guests as Danny Franks would call them). Don’t “buy your pew”.
Don’t neglect the theologically true hymns. Yes, just like some of our choruses today, there are some “bad” ones – but let the Word be the measure of the truth found in the songs you sing (on the radio, off the iPod, and in the church). I’m so thankful for great hymns that we sing – I don’t think we sing them enough – but I love modern hymns and choruses, too.
Let Scripture form your theology more than society. Society may bring to light some issues you may not have had to consider before – but always let the inerrant Word of God be your guide.

1 comment:

Ben Stratton said...

Great report. Thanks very much for posting these. Those of us who would like to be there, but can't look forward to reading more.