Baptists: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
by Jarrell Huffman
This sermon was preached at the sixteenth annual messenger body meeting of the churches
composing the Illinois State Baptist Association which met with the Temple Missionary
Baptist Church of Moline, Illinois, September 9, 1972.
The messengers voted to have the message printed and distrihuted among the churches in the state of Illinois.
A special word of thanks is due Brother Mark J. Maddox, professor of church history in the Illinois Missionary Baptist Institute of Washington, Illinois, for his helpful suggestions concerning the historical part of this message.
Credit is also due to Brother Wayne Camp, president of the Illinois Missionary Baptist Institute, who read the manuscript, gave helpful suggestions, and printed the booklet.
This booklet is sent forth, not to make friends with apostates and liberal-minded Baptists, butto stir the hearts of true Baptists everywhere who put truth above tradition and honor ahove expediency. It is hoped that readers of the booklet will read without bias and prejudice. If you a gree with the things said, or if you disagree with the contents, at least do not turn a deaf ear to history or close your eyes to definite declarations in the Scriptures. Uncle Remus wisely said, "Truth ain't never been hurt yet by people not believing it."
BAPTISTS: YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW
Text: Proverbs 22:28: "Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set." Jude 3: "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
BAPTISTS HAVE A GLORIOUS HERITAGE. Through my mind's eye I see a long line of preachers and laymen who through the preceding ages have held high the blood-stained banner of truth. I see them hated by the established religions; I see them persecuted, imprisoned, and killed by their enemies all the way from Christ, to Stephen, to the millions who died during the Dark Ages.
As Buell Kazee well said, "Baptists are either unique or they are nothing." In times past the line of demarcation between Baptists and the denominations of this world was pronounced. The Methodists, Presbyterians, Catholics, and others knew where Baptists stood on issues; today the line of separation is a muted and a mottled grey. Where the world ends and the church begins is no longer clearly defined. Such a spirit and attitude is the spirit of Balaamism in this Laodicean church age. This fact is tragic: the spirit of ecumenism has deeply pervaded the ranks of the Baptists of this day.
I think no true Baptist is blind to the fact that something is dreadfully wrong in Baptist life. Spurgeon remarked in the late 1800's that, "We are going downhill at breakneck speed." Spurgeon saw the breakdown in Baptist life in England years ago. This evil spread to the shores of America. Today in 1972 we are suffering the dire effects of this moral and spiritual breakdown.
I read Baptists of old such as Gill, Spurgeon, Graves, Fuller, Pendleton, Broadus, Boyce, J.B. Moody, Francis Wayland, W.A. Jarrel, J.B. Jeter, and others. I rejoice in their doctrinal stand on matters that made Baptists differ from all other groups. Though the writings of these great men adorn the shelves of many preachers' libraries, the doctrines they espoused, wrote about, and taught unashamedly are not being sounded forth in clarion tones in these days of widespread apostasy!
Baptists are much like the city built around a spring. As the city grew and many houses were built, the spring became boarded up and forgotten. Doctrines that have been identified with Baptists for centuries have ceased to be preached in many pulpits across America.
To wave a "Baptist flag" in this day of spiritual deadness can mean anything from Dan to Beersheba doctrinally. People going by the name "Baptist" are practicing everything from speaking in tongues to ordaining women to preach. AND TRUE BAPTISTS ARE MUCH TO BLAME FOR THIS CRASS IGNORANCE!
History bears mute evidence that people do not learn from the mistakes of others. As one author well said, "We learn from history that we do not learn."
False doctrine is like leaven. Beginning as a small thing, leaven permeates the lot. False doctrine supplants the truth, not all at once, but gradually. And, if allowed to persist in a church or churches, the doctrines once held precious will be neglected or considered out-of-date. Here is the picture I desire you to see in this message: WHY ARE BAPTISTS WHERE THEY ARE TODAY? To understand where we are today, we must first examine where we were yesterday. After we have discovered where we were yesterday, and see where we are today, we will be in a good position to see where we are apt to be tomorrow. Think carefully with me on this subject: BAPTISTS: YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND TOMORROW.
I. WHERE WERE BAPTISTS YESTERDAY?
A. Their Origin
John the Baptist prepared the material for Jesus to take and organize His church (Luke 1:17). These people were saved and scripturally baptized (Matthew 3:1-8). From this prepared material Jesus organized His first church (Matthew 4;17-22). Later, on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), the Holy Spirit empowered this church to go into all the world with the gospel message.
B. First Century (30--99)
John the Baptist was beheaded by Herod; Christ was crucified; Stephen was stoned to death; all of the apostles, excepting John, died the death of martyrs. John was banished to the isle of Patmos where he wrote the Revelation (Revelation 1).
In this century (first) the disciples were called CHRISTIANS (Acts 11:26). This was a name given them by their enemies--a practice which was to be practiced in the centuries which followed.
At this point in history the church at Jerusalem spread northward to Syria, westward to Asia Minor and Galatia, and finally to Europe. Persecution resulted in these Christians leaving Jerusalem. As they left they took the gospel with them (Acts 8:1-4). The apostle Paul was a great instrument in the hands of Almighty God in this century. See Acts 13:1-28: 31.
In this first century whole empires were moved by the ardent zeal of God's people. The Roman empire at first tried to ignore the Lord's churches; in time she sought to exterminate every Christian from the face of the earth. A blood bath ensued under the reign of a number of Caesars such as Diocletian which claimed the lives of thousands of loyal saints.
C. Second Century (100-199)
In the second century the true people of God took the gospel to greater extents. Many in this century are nicknamed "Montanists" and "Tertullianists" after two of their main leaders, Montanus and Tertullian.
The area concerned in this century included Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, Europe, etc. North Africa has hy this time been at least partly evangelized.
D. Third Century (200-299)
In this century a very prominent man comes on the scene in Rome. His name is Novatian. Following a schism in the church at Rome, Cornelius is elected Pastor. Disturbed by the growing slackness, Novatian leaves. With him go many dedicated Christians who also are disturbed. In time the followers of Novatian are dubbed "Novatianists." Jarrel quotes Robinson who says, "On the death of Bishop Fabian, Cornelius, a brother elder, and a vehement partisan for taking in the multitude, was put in nomination. Novatian opposed him; but as Cornelius carried his election and he saw no prospect of reformation, but, on the contrary, a tide of immorality pouring into the church, he withdrew and a great many with him... Great numbers followed his example, and all over the empire Puritan churches were constituted, they were distinguished by a variety of names and a succession of them continued until the Reformation" (Baptist Church Perpetuity, p. 87). Jarrel also quotes J.M. Cramp who says, "...the Novatian churches were what are now called Baptist churches, adhering to the apostolic and primitive practice" (Ibid., p. 88).
E. Fourth Century (300-399)
In the fourth century the name "Donatist" comes to the forefront. Especially was this true in North Africa. This name was given the true churches from their leader, Donatus. Of the Donatists Jarrel quotes Armitage who says, "The Donatists agitation arose in north Africa, A.D. 311, in what are now known as the Barbary States; but it centered in Carthage, Numidia, and the Mauritanias." (Ibid., p. 89). Kurtz says, "Like the Novatians, they insisted on absolute purity in the church... they denounced the Catholics as schismatics" (Ibid., p. 92). Schaff concurs: "Like the Montanists and Novatianists they insisted on rigorous church discipline." (Ibid., p. 92).
F. Fifth Century (400-499)
In the fifth century we find the churches of the Lord being called "Montanists," "Donatists" and "Novatianists." These names, given them in the preceding centuries, are carried through this time and beyond.
G. Sixth Century (500-499)
In the sixth century the same groups are prominent. At this point in history the churches of the Lord are thriving in North Africa, Europe, Asia, Syria, Palestine, and other regions.
H. Seventh Century (600-699)
The seventh century introduces at least two new names: "Paulicians" (after Silvanus who emphasized the epistles of Paul) and "Paterines." The Paulicians were situated in Armenia and Italy. By 1000 A. D. the Paulicians were in England. Of the Paulicians Orchard says, "It was about the year 653, that a new sect came into notice in the East, under the name of Paulicians... " (Concise History of the Baptists, p. 127). Of their locale and names Orchard says: "In Italy, they were called Paterini and Cathari. In France, they were denominated Bulgarians, from the kingdom of emigration, also Publicans, instead of Paulicians, and boni homines, good men; but were chiefly known by the term Albigenses, from the town of Alby, in the Upper Languedoc" (Ibid., p. 138). Of their beliefs W.A. Jarrel says, "In these churches of the Paulicians, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper they held to be peculiar to the communion of the faithful; i.e. restricted to believers" Jarrel, op. cit., p. 115). The term "Paterines" is another name given to true churches of old. The name itself, says Mezeray, "... a name which came from the glory they took in suffering patiently for the truth" (Orchard, op. cit., p. 144).
I. Eighth Century (700-799)
The eighth century produced no new names. The Paterines, Paulicians, and other forementioned groups persist.
J. Ninth Century (800-899)
The term "Bogomiles" now appears in the ninth century. The true churches are still being called Paterines, Paulicians, etc. The term "Cathari" (the pure) is a name of derision given to these various groups who hold tenaciously to the doctrines of the faith.
K. Tenth Century (900-999)
A new name, and one that will endure for centuries, appears in the tenth century--the "Albigenses." This name denotes especially the churches of the Lord in southern France near the town of Albi. W.A. Jarrel says of them: "Coming from Asia, where they were known as Paulicians, they crossed the Balkan Peninsula and reached the Western empire. In the tenth and the eleventh centuries, under the name Paulicians, but especially Albigenses, from the town of Albi in Southern France, and Cathari--from their pure lives--they filled and moulded both France and Italy, affecting in a less degree, other parts of Europe" (Jarrel, op. cit., p. 124). That they were Baptists is evident: "In church government the Albigenses were Baptists... Their bards or pastors were every one of them heads of their churches, but they acted on nothing without the consent of the people and the clergy... Their ritual and ecclesiastical organization were exceedingly simple" (Ibid., pp. 127, 128).
L. Eleventh Century (1000-1099)
In the eleventh century no new name specifically appears on the scene. The churches of the Lord are being called Paterines, Paulicians, Bulgarians, Albigenses, etc. See Orchard's Concise History of the Baptists, p. 138.
M. Twelfth Century (1100-1199)
Two new names appear in the twelfth century- the Petrobrussians and the Arnoldists. The Petrobrussians took their name from Peter de Bruis. They were located in southern France. W.A. Jarrel says, "Historians agree that the Pctrobrussians appeared in the South of France about 1104" (Ibid., p. 140). At the death of Peter de Bruis, he was succeeded by one of his associates, Henry of Lausanne. Many true churches were known from this point as "Henricians." The Arnoldists were located in Italy. The name "Arnoldists"came from their leader, Arnold of Brescia who was martyred in 1155 by the Catholics. The Petrobrussians, Henricians, and Arnoldists were throughly Baptistic.
Another prominent name is noted in this century the Waldenses. These ancient Baptists were located in the Alps of Ita1y and France. They are usually associated with the "Piedmont Valley. " Another name given to these brethren was "Vaudois." For their beliefs see W.A. Jarrel's Baptist Church Perpetuity, pp. 159-181.
N. Thirteenth Century (1200-1299)
A new name is worthy of note in the thirteenth century the Lollards. Walter Lollard was a Waldensian "bard" or pastor. Thus, the Lollards were the same in belief as the Waldenses.
Q. Fourteenth Century (1300-1399)
One prominent disciple of the Lord who lived in the fourteenth century was named John Wickliffe (1324). He resided in England. The various names already mentioned Paterines, Paulicians, Waldenses, etc. are still applied in this century.
P. Fifteenth Century (1400-1499)
In the fifteenth century two prominent men in history, John Huss and Jerome of Prague, cross the stage of history. Many of the Lord's churches are now called "Hussites" after John Huss. The general name "Anabaptist" (re-baptizer) now begins to appear, designating those who adhered to the truth.
Q. Sixteenth Century (1500-1599)
The Lord's churches in the sixteenth century were called "Anabaptists" and "Waldenses." In certain locales the names "Mennonites" and "Picards" are applied to true churches. Let it be noted that the Mennonites of that era were Baptists, unlike the present-day Mennonites. For facts concerning the Anabaptists see W.A. Jarrel's Baptist Church Perpetuity, pp. 182-215).
R. Seventeenth Century (1600-1699)
For the first time in history the word "Baptist" appears as specifically denominating the churches of the Lord. At this point the prefix "ana" begins to be dropped from "Anabaptist." From this point onward the Lord's churches are known as "Baptists."
S. Eighteenth Century (1700-1799)
By this time the term "Baptist" is known the world over. In some locales, however, the older names still persist. The "Baptists" are the same in belief as the Montanists, Novatianists, Paulicians, Paterines, Waldenses, and Anabaptists of the preceding ages.
T. Nineteenth Century (1800-1899)
By the nineteenth century Baptists have evangelized the world. From England and Wales in preceding centuries they came to the new world (some as entire churches). The Baptist churches in early America sounded forth the same gospel message which those in England preached, and soon all the way back to Christ.
U. Twentieth Century (1900-present)
In this century true churches of the Lord are the "Baptists. " However, not all Baptists are true Baptists. Many who wear this good name do not believe nor practice the truths which have always characterized the true churches of the Lord.
By belief and practice these groups previously mentioned were Baptistic. The various names given -- from "Christians" to "Anabaptists"--were usually given by their enemies in derision. Other names came from the prominent leaders among them.
Some of these groups gave rise to other groups. At times many of these groups existed in different parts of the world contemporaneously. In the same century true churches may have been known as Albigenses, Waldenses, Paulicians, Paterines, etc.
Terms such as "Cathari" (pure), acephali (headless), and Anabaptist (re-baptizer) were general names applied to all of these groups at certain times in history. Their enemies duhbed them the "pure" because of their strict belief in a separated life; they were called "headless" because they recognized no earthly head such as the Pope; they were given the name "Anabaptist" because they always re-baptized those who came to them from unscriptural churches (Catholic or Protestant).
All of these groups agreed in five major points:
1. They demanded regeneration before baptism.
2. They baptized believers only.
3. They believed in equality in church membership.
4. They believed in separation of church and state.
5. They believed the Bihle to be the only rule of faith and practice.
STATEMENTS FROM RELIABLE HISTORIANS
Able historians, not Baptists, have made statements which confirm the assertions of Baptists that Baptist churches can trace their existence from the present back to Christ and the apostles. Hear the following:
MOSHEIM (Lutheran): 'Before the rise of Luther and Calvin, there lay secreted in almost all the countries of Europe persons who adhered tenaciously to the principles of modern Dutch Baptists" (Baptist Church Perpetuity, W.A. Jarrel, p. 311).
ZWINGLI (Reformer): "The institution of Anabaptism is no novelty, but for thirteen hundred years past has caused great disturbance in the church, and has such a strength that the attempt to contend against it in this age appeared for a time futile" (Ibid., pp. 302-303).
NEWTON (philosopher: "The modern Baptists formerly called Anabaptists are the only people that never symbolyzed with the papacy" (Ibid. p. 313).
RIDPATH (Methodist): "I should not readily admit that there were Baptist churches as far back as A.D. 100, although without doubt there were Baptists then, as all Christians were then Baptists" (Ibid., p. 59).
YPEIJ and DERMOUT (Dutch Reformed): "We have already seen that the Baptists--those who in former times were named Anabaptists, and in later times Mennonites--were originally Waldenses, the men who in the history of the church, in time so far back, have obtained a vell-deserved renown. In consequence, the Baptists may be regarded as being from of old the only religious denomination that have continued from the times of the Apostles, as a Christian society who have kept the evangelical faith pure through all the ages hitherto" (Ibid., p. 315).
ALEXANDER CAMPBELL (Church of Christ): "... from the apostolic age, to the present time, the sentiments of Baptists, and the practice of baptism have had a continued chain of advocates, and public monuments of their existence in every century can be produced" (Macalla-Campbell Debate, pp. 378-379).
CARDINAL HOSSIUS (Catholic): "If the truth of religion were to be judged of by the readiness and cheerfulness which a man of any sect shows in suffering, then the opinions and persuasions of no sect can be truer or surer than those of the Anabaptists; since there have been none for these twelve hundred years past that have been more grievously punished" (Concise History of the Baptists, Orchard, p. 364). Hossius also said, "The Anabaptists are a pernicious sect, of which kind the Waldensian brethren seem to have been. Nor is this heresy a modern thing -- for it existed in the time of Austin" (Baptist Church Perpetuity, Jarrel, p. 308).
These quotations could be multiplied, but this is unnecessary. The enemies of Baptists have made statements which verify the antiquity of Baptists.
God's true people, beginning with the crucifixion of Christ and followed by the slaying of James and Stephen, the martyring of the apostles, and on through the fifty million plus who died in the horror of the Dark Ages, have ever been hated by governments, especially those dominated by the state church. This persecution which began in the first century has continued through all of the succeeding centuries. Although little persecution is known in this present century, there continues to be some in countries such as Russia.
In the ninth century the Empress Theodora put to death over 100,000 Paulicians (832-846 A. D.). Of this Orchard says, "After confiscating the goods and property of one hundred thousand of these people, the owners to that number were put to death in the most barbarous manner, and made to expire slowly under a variety of the most exquisite tortures" (Orchard, op. cit., p. 137).
In the thirteenth century over one million of the Albigenses were slain in France (Ibid., p. 330). Historians say that over fifty million of God's true people died during the cruel Dark Ages. The reader should avail himself of books such as Fox's Book of Martyrs, The Churches in the Valley of Piedmont and others. The blood of the saints flowed freely in almost all of the countries of Europe. And in the main this was religious persecution--created by the unholy union of church and state.
God sent John the Baptist to prepare the material for Jesus to take and establish His church. These were saved and scripturally baptized people (Matthew 3:1-8). In time Jesus sent out the twelve and the seventy (Matthew 10; Luke 10). Later, because of persecution, the church at Jerusalem scattered. Those who were scattered took the Word and established churches. From this dispersion the church in Antioch (Syria) was established. See Acts 8. Later, after being converted, Saul was sent out from this church at Antioch (Acts 13:1, 2).
Paul's missionary tours make up the greater part of the book of Acts (chapters 13-28). Through the efforts of this man the gospel was taken to Asia Minor, Galatia, and Europe.
Those who followed Paul in the succeeding centuries maintained his spirit of zeal and love for the truth. The Montanists, Donatists, Novatians, Waldenses, Paulicians, and others were mission-minded. Of the Donatists Jones asserts: "There was scarcely a city or town in Africa (north) in which there was not a Donatist church" (Ibid., p. 89). Of the Paulicians Orchard says, "Without any funds or public societies to countenance or support the arduous under-taking, otherwise, than their respective churches, the Paulicians fearlessly penetrated the most barbarous parts of Europe, and went single-handed, and single-eyed, to the conflict with every grade of character" (Ihid., p. 139). Of the Waldenses Jarrel says: "So widely had the sect been scattered that it was said a traveler from Antwerp to Rome could sleep every night in the house of one of their brethren" (Baptist Church Perpetuity, Jarrel, p. 296).
From Rome the gospel was taken to England and Wales. Of the Welsh Baptists it has been said: "In 1737, thirty members of a Baptist church in Wales with their minister, came to Pennsylvatia and organized the Welsh Tract church'" (Ibid., p. 399). Thus, from Wales the gospel came to America.
Let this section be concluded with this statement by W.W. Everts: "I am much interested in your question about missions and the Anabaptists. They were the most determined colporteurs and missionaries throughout Europe" (Ibid., p. 190).
SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES
The early churches of the Lord believed in training schools for preachers and laymen. Jesus was rightly called the Master Teacher. Paul taught for some two years in the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19). Of the Albigenses in France is said: "In a short time the Albigenses had congregations and schools and charitable institutions of their own" (History of the Baptists, J.T. Christian, p. 63). Of these eary Baptists Orchard says, "There was scarcely a man or woman among them, who was not far better read in the Bible, than the doctors of the church (Catholic)" (Concise History of the Baptists, Orchard, p. 266). Of the Waldenses it is recorded: "In 1229 they had spread themselves in great number throughout all Italy. They had ten schools in Valcomonica alone" (Ibid., g. 273).
The English Baptists had their schools. The early American Baptists had their institutions of higher learning. Brown University, Georgetown, Wake Forest, Furman, Croser, Newton, and the University of Chicago are just a few that were at one time strict Baptist schools. Many of these at the present have been sadly affected by the inroads of modernism.
The point is this: Baptists have always believed in Bible training. In 1230 Reinerus, a monk, said this of the ancient Waldenses: "The heretics (Waldenses) have more schools than the theologians and more auditors... They have translated the Old and New Testaments into other tongues. I myself have seen and heard a clownish layman who could repeat the whole of the book of Job by heart and many who were perfectly acquainted with the whole of the New Testament" (Jarrel, op. cit., pp. 261, 262).
True Baptists of today have their schools where the Bible is taught in its purity. This is as it should be.
Baptists of yesterday were busy for God. The long line of martyrs and faithful saints testifies to the fact that God has had his true people in all preceding ages since Christ. For the fruits of Baptists in the past see Baptist Church Perpetuity by W.A. Jarrel, pp. 465-471. THESE WERE BAPTISTS OF YESTERDAY!
II. WHERE ARE BAPTISTS TODAY?
True Baptists are humbled when they survey the long line of martyrs who died rather than compromise one particle of truth. The heritage is a blessed one. Yet, this age has produced generations who know nothing and care nothing for the sufferings of the forefathers. This attitude has been produced by the neglect of teaching and preaching truth.
The breakdown in Baptist life began years ago. The truths held dynamically at first came to be held formally. Spurgeon declared of the situation in England in the late 1800's: "We are going downhill at breakneck speed."
In part I the author has emphasized that these ancient people--the Montanists, Donatists, Novatians, Paulicians. Waldenses, Anabaptists, etc.--were Baptistic in belief and practice. Yet, within these groups there were those who were not so orthodox. In the later centuries the majority of these groups had un-Baptistic practices. Within the Mennonites, Waldenses, and others were some who practiced heretical doctrines. Orchard said of the Waldenses in the 17th century: "But at this period those circumstances and changes did take place among this people..." (Orchard. op. cit., p. 291). He also says, "As in the early, so among these modern Baptists, two classes are found, at a later period distinguished by the terms of rigid and moderate. The former class observe, with the most religious accuracy, veneration and precision, the ancient doctrine, discipline, and precepts of the purer Baptists. The latter are more conformed to Protestant churches" (Ibid., p. 368). All of this means that in time many of the Waldenses, Mennonites and others became heretical and un-Baptistic. Applying this thought to the present-day situation we find that many Baptists (so-called) are strictly un-Baptistic. Many call themselves "Protestant" and are leaders in the ecumenical movement.
The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century had a dire effect on the Lord's true churches. It is true that Luther, Calvin, and others did seek honestly to reform the Catholic church. They embraced many Bible truths. Yet, instead of aligning themselves with the Baptists of that day, they in turn began to persecute the Baptists as the Catholics before them had done. Let no true Baptist think for one moment that Baptists had their origin in the Reformation!
This breakdown in orthodoxy actually began in Germany in the early 1800's. This liberalism and modernism spread to England. From England this evil spread to the shores of America.
THE PRESENT ISSUES
Where are Baptists on this important issue? Many are recognizing alien baptism, especially alien immersion. Others are practicing what is commonly known as "Christian baptism"-- that anyone's baptism is good so long as it is immersion. Those who are even more modernistic have begun to have special confirmation services for babies. The spirit of ecumenism has made great inroads into Baptist ranks. This fact is evidenced in the perversion of the ordinance of baptism.
Many present-day "Baptists" have abandoned "close" or "closed" communion to escape the stigma of the doctrine. The appeal of ecumenism to bring all beliefs together has deeply pervaded the thinking of many Baptists.
The majority of Baptists by name in this age have fallen prey to the "universal-invisible" church theory. Augustine in the early centuries this side of Christ promoted the "universal idea" of the church; Luther in the 16th century espoused the "invisible" idea. Since then the majority of denominations have accepted this erroneous idea. It is inevitable that Baptists would be affected. On the basis of this liberal thinking, it is no wonder that some Baptists have had joint services with the Catholics and others. If the universal-invisible theory is correct, it does make no difference what one believes on many issues. How tragic that Baptists have allowed themselves to be caught in this carefully laid trap of Satan!
Church and State
The Baptists in history were univocal in their attestation that the church should be separate from the state in every aspect. Yet, today some Baptist schools receive state aid. Others are seeking such. Only a few in this indifferent age care enough to raise their voices in protest against this grave error. History has proved conclusively that the union of church and state has been a curse. America will certainly be no exception!
The poet wrote these words:
"Millions there have never heard,
Millions here have never cared."
Per capita we give pennies to missions, whereas we give dollars to non-essentials such as candy, cold drinks, chewing gum, etc. Our forefathers put us to shame on mission work. If any people on earth should be mission-minded, Baptists should be. Considering the glorious heritage which is ours, pondering carefully the commission to the churches, and viewing the lost bound for hell, Missionary Baptists should be the most mission-minded people on earth.
The Scriptures certainly teach that churches of the Lord associated together. But this association or fellowship was always on a voluntary basis. The churches lost none of their autonomy by associating. True churches today should associate. The Bible gives no warrant for isolationism.
Yet, there is a trend toward centralization. Anytime there is organization, this danger is present. For this reason the Lord Himself warned in unequivocal tones of the dangers of Nicolaitanism (overlordship). See Matthew 20:20-28; Revelation 2:6, 15; III John 9.
The Southern Baptists of today have a highly organized machine. In 1934 W.W. Barnes warned of this trend in his hook entitled "The Southern Baptist Convention--A Study in the Development of Ecclesiology. Vast changes have taken place since this book was written. In many cases Southern Baptists (SBC) have been taught to worship a program. To many of them the sign "SBC" is a magic term. Anything under this umbrella is orthodox; anything outside is taboo.
There are also some within the ranks of Missionary Baptists who think that the term "ABA" possesses some magical power. Condemning the SBC for their error, they follow suit and commit the same error. Some have ignorantly concluded or have been deluded into thinking that anything that labels itself "ABA" is straight doctrinally and that anything not under this label is heretical. Such is sheer nonsense and is a step toward Denominationalism which has always been a curse to the Lord's churches!
This author seeks not to be misunderstood. I am a Missionary Baptist and have never been anything else. I choose to be in the fellowship of churches which compose the American Baptist Association. I honestly believe that the churches composing this association have more truth than any group of Baptists on earth. Yet, I do not worship the ABA or any program of the ABA. I refuse to close my eyes to what is going on and hide my head in the sand as the ostrich. If error presents itself, I sin if I pretend it does not exist. If certain within the ranks of the ABA practice error, it is wrong. Association with the ABA does not make anything scriptural.
The tendency is always away from the authority of the local church. And when one gets away from the local church he is too far. The Lord gave the commission to the church as an institution, not to some group of men, committee, or association. For one, I refuse to be beguiled into believing that everything practiced under some label is scriptural.
Doctrines of Grace
This is a sore spot with many brethren. By the term "doctrines of grace" I refer to the system of theology which makes salvation all of grace. These doctrines include election, predestination, foreordination, effectual calling, perseverance of the saints, and others. For the most part these have been relegated to the background. Yet Paul, the greatest expositor on these doctrines, the ancient Waldenses, the Particular Baptists of England, and the early American Baptists all believed and preached these doctrines unashamedly! The Confessions of Faith prove this conclusively.
Men such as John Gill, Charles Spurgeon, J.R. Graves, J.M. Pendleton, J.P. Boyce, W.A. Jarrel, A.H. Strong, J.B. Moody, and many other Baptists of old believed and contended for these doctrines. Baptists of today like to refer back to these great men of old. They buy their books. Yet, for the most part, Baptists of today do not agree with these men on their stand on these doctrines.
BUT NOTE THIS: WE MAY DENY THE DOCTRINES OF ELECTION, PREDESTINATION, ETC., BUT WE CANNOT TRACE OUR HISTORY BACK TO CHRIST AND THE APOSTLES UNLESS WE GO THROUGH CHURCHES WHO BELIEVED AND TAUGHT THESE DOCTRINES!
There are Baptists today who do not even believe the confession of faith the church where they hold membership adopted when it was organized. Instead of explaining these articles (Baptist Way-Book, Bogard, p. 51--articles VII, VIII, IX), they either ignore them or explain them away. Some Baptists today blatantly say that the doctrines of "election" and "predestination" are "dangerous." Others, to play on the sympathy and emotions of their hearers, label them "hardshell" and "fatalistic." These are the Devil's tactics. Thus Satan has many people running scared on these precious truths!
Extremists on both sides have confused these doctrines and robbed God's people of many blessings. And remember: Any doctrine Satan puts a lot of emphasis on to confuse or imitate is sure to be important.
Ignoring doctrines is just as bad as adding to the word of God. To ignore a doctrine will inevitably cause one to create other doctrines to explain away some he chooses not to accept.
Spurgeon hit the nail on the head when he said: "The doctrine of grace has been put by in the lumber chamber. It is acknowledged to be true, for it is confessed in most creeds... It is put among the relics of the past. It is considered to be a respectable sort of retired officer who is not expected to see any more active service" (Spurgeon on the Five Points, p. 80). There are many present day Baptists who become infuriated when anyone mentions the word "election." To them it is like waving a red flag before an angered bull. Others refuse to even discuss the matter. They know the doctrines are in the Bible, but choose to neglect them. Yet these same brethren would condemn anyone who would dare suggest that the book of Revelation be ignored!
These doctrines of grace give all the glory to God and humble man. They are comforting doctrines, in that they demand faith in God. They are not doctrines that harden one to sinners. Rather, they create in the heart a love for God and a love for His mercy and grace. They create a sane evangelism which will be discussed in the next section.
Reader, do not let Satan rob you of the truth of these doctrines. I challenge you to study for yourself. Read what God has to say. Read what great Baptists of old had to say. Just to make you think, how long has it been, preacher, since you preached a sermon on "Divine Election!" How long has it been, church member since you heard a sermon preached on "Predestination?" Your answer will prove where Baptists are today.
Let the reader read this with an open mind and an unprejudiced heart. Baptists through the ages have been able to disagree as brethren. Baptists have always been able to disagree on the rapture question and other questions with out breaking fellowship. Why not concerning these doctrines?
Let us not take a supercilious attitude that "my position is right and all others are wrong." Let's be men enough and Baptistic enough to allow the other fellow his opinion without branding him a heretic.
It is this writer's sincere prayer that every Missionary Baptist will avail himself of a copy of Pillars of Orthodoxy edited by Ben M. Bogard, and read the sermon entited "Divine Decrees" by J. P. Boyce (whom Bogard called a pillar of orthodoxy). Boyce not only defines the meaning of "predestination," but shows also that it is a very profitable doctrine.
It is one thing to declare a man wrong on a doctrine. It is entirely something else to prove it.
Baptists are where they are today in evengelism because of where they are on the doctrines of grace (previous part). Because these doctrines of grace have been ignored in modern-day preaching, modern and unscriptural methods of evangelism have crept in.
The "Billy Graham" type of evangelism which calls for sinners to make a "decision" for Christ may suit some Baptists but here is one that is not suited to it. I have nothing personally against Mr. Graham. I'm sure that some who walk the aisles under his preaching are saved. Whatever truth he speaks is certainly to be blessed of God.
But Billy Graham is not a Baptist. He wears the name (when it suits his purpose), but wouldn't know a real Baptist if he met one head on! He stands for nothing which Baptists have always accounted important--authority in baptism, closed communion, the local church, etc. He hobnobs with modernists and infidels. And so Mr. Graham is like many others of this day who wear the name "Baptist" but are thoroughly un-Baptistic.
There are also the hyper-evangelistic methods espoused by John R. Rice, Jack Hyles, and others. I am not condemning these men for the souls they do reach. But, I certainly question the methods promoted by them.
This whole business of modern evangelization has put the emphasis on "nickles and numbers. " Many preachers and church members have been taught that the sermon is a failure if no "decisions" are made, if the offering is small, or if the attendance is down. How unlike our Baptist forefathers who put the emphasis on spiritual things.
CHEAP METHODS CHEAPEN THE GOSPEL! Some Baptists have been known to give away goldfish or trading stamps to boost their attendance. Others have reportedly turned baloons loose with prizes within. These things are not hearsay. THEY ARE HAPPENING AT THE PRESENT TIME IN MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCHES!
Spurgeon spoke of these tactics when he said: "Many such preachers give much heat, but little light." Some preachers think that loud talking, antics behind the pulpit, climbing on top of the piano stool, telling dead dog stories, frothing at the mouth, and any other tactics to touch the heartstrings of someone in the audience is preaching. Who said so! The Lord said to be "fools for Christ's sake," but He did not mean to make a fool of oneself and the gospel!
To many preachers of today the invitation is the most important part of the sermon. Some preachers preach twenty minutes and give an invitation for thirty. Now, this is not to condemn a long invitation if God is saving souls or lives are being dedicated. But to drag out an invitation merely to coerce someone down the aisle without the wooing of the Holy Spirit is not right. THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE SERMON IS THE SERMON! The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, not the theatrics of some preacher.
J.B. Jeter, Baptist of old, comments on the revivals of years gone by. He states that the greatest revivals have corne when God's Word was preached in its purity. Not only this, preachers who preached the doctrines of grace (previous part) have been the most successful. Hear him: "Great revivals have accompanied the heroic preaching of the doctrines of grace, predestination, election, and that whole lofty mountain range of doctrines upon which Jehovah sits enthroned, sovereign in grace as in all things else. God honors the preaching that honors him. There is entirely too much milk-sop preaching nowadays, trying to cajole sinners to enter upon a truce with their Maker, quit sinning, and join the church. The situation does not call for a truce but for surrender. Let us bring out the heavy artillery of heaven, and thunder away at this stuckup age as Whitefield, Edwards, Spurgeon, and Paul did, and there will be many slain of the Lord raised up to walk in newness of life" (Baptist Principles Reset, J. B. Jeter, p. 247).
Commenting on the proper way to preach these doctrines of grace, Jeter says: "In some quarters there has grown up a strong and hindering prejudice against the preaching of 'dry doctrine.' The trouble does not lie in the doctrine, but in the dry preaching of it. Dry preachers have turned the very bread of heaven into stones, and not a few have found no better use for the stones after they are made than to cast at their theological adversaries. Much of the doctrinal preaching is not only distastefully dry, but distressingly gritty. We can scarcely wonder that hungry souls turn away from a ministry which preaches predestination without pathos, election without grace, baptism without its sublime spiritual meaning, communion without sensibility, and all duty without beauty" (Ibid., pp. 244, 245).
Thus, the spiritual state of Baptist churches in general is deplorable in this age of apathy and spiritual deadness. Many gasp from one big day to another, presenting the gospel, not as the power of God unto salvation, but as a partial failure, trying to please the dead works of men instead of God.
III. WHERE WILL BAPTISTS BE TOMORROW?
A careful look into the past has revealed where Baptists were yesterday. A careful investigation of the present reveals where most Baptists are today. By following this same line of thinking, one can be reason ably sure where most Baptists will be tomorrow.
Judges 16:20 says of Samson who had his locks snipped in Delilah's lap: "... he wist (knew) not that the Lord was departed." He arose to fight and ward off his enemies, but his power was gone. His flirtation with Delilah and the world had brought his sad decline.
In I Kings 1:4 the story is given of David in his last days as king. The young maiden was brought in to comfort him, "... but the king knew her not (was unaware of her presence)." Here was a man who in his prime had slain his tens of thousands by the power of God. Here was the sweet singer of Israel, the slayer of Goliath, and the greatest of Israel's kings--the man after God's own heart. Yet, in this hour of weakness, he was totally unaware of his surroundings.
Will Baptists never learn that the trend of this world-system is downward? Will they never learn that Baptists are either unique or nothing?
To make things more specific, the church at Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22), graphically pictures this last segment of the one church age which began with Christ. Of this luke-warm church it is said, "Because thou sayest I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing (their idea): and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked (God's idea)."
No better words could be given to describe the state of apthy and indifference which exists in the Lord's churches today. Many have abundant finances. They have constructed beautiful edifices: they have comfort and ease; they have made use of the latest modes of travel and have availed themselves of the latest teaching techniques. THEY HAVE ORGANIZATION BU'T FOR THE MOST PART GOD HAS BEEN ORGANIZED OUT!
Laodiceanism is the age of the exaltation of the laity. It is what the people think. It is reasoning without "thus saith the Lord." Laodiceanism has two extremes. One extreme finds churches asleep with no mission program, no supported ministry, no plans for evangelization. The other extreme is hyper-activity --much noise and heat, but little spiritual unction and light. What both extremes need to realize is this warning of God: "Not by might, nor by power, but by my SPIRIT, saith the Lord of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6).
If every true Baptist will be honest with himself, he will have to admit that there is something dreadfully wrong in Baptist life at the present time!
More and more Baptists (by name) will be swept head-long into the ecumenical movement.
Modernism and liberalism will continue to make inroads into Baptist churches, seminaries, and pulpits.
Open communion and alien baptism will continue to infect Baptist churches to the extent that many will cease to be true churches.
The universal-invisible church idea will grow within Baptist ranks, with only the small minority of Baptists believing in the local-visible idea of the Lord's church.
Centralization will grow, even among fundamental Baptist groups. This curse will be made to prosper by little men espousing great ideas and aspiring to positions of power. Many, avowing their Headquarters to be in Heaven, will like more of a showing on earth.
Certain Bible doctrines such as election and predestination, which are so odious to many, will continue to be hated and neglected. Since many are too proud to ever admit they could have been wrong on these issues, they will fight them rather than bow to God and His Word.
The hyper-evangelism craze will increase. Many Baptists, instead of using the Bible program of reaching sinners one by one, will plunge ahead in adopting the world's ideas to get "decisions."
In closing this message concerning Baptists, let this writer give some exhortations to those who are faithfully trying to serve God:
Remove not the ancient landmarks which thy fathers have set (Prov. 22:28).
Contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
Stand fast in the faith (I Cor. 16:13).
Put on the whole armor of God to meet Satan successfully (Eph. 6:11).
Though few contend for the faith, be one of them (Luke 18: 8).
Continue to evangelize, baptize, and teach the all things which Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:20).
Go into all the world with the gospel (Mark 16:15).
Remember those precious words of Jesus in Matthew 16:18, that He will never let His institution (church) fail for He promised: "... the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. "
THE BAPTISTS OF YESTERDAY LIVED FOR GOD, DIED FOR GOD WHEN NECESSARY, AND CONTENDED FOR THE PURITY OF THE FAITH!
THE BAPTISTS OF TODAY ARE MANY BY NAME BUT FEW BY PRACTICE. THE INFLUENCE OF THE WORLD AND FALSE RELIGION HAS TAKEN ITS TOLL AMONG BAPTISTS.
THE BAPTISTS OF TOMORROW WILL BE FEWER YET AS FAR AS PURITY OF TRUTH AND SEPARATE LIVING ARE CONCERNED. FEWER AND FEWER WILL BE FOUND CONTENDING FOR THE FAITH.
Until He comes, brethren, let us who love the truth and the heritage of the Baptists remember the wise words of the writer of Proverbs: "Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set."
1 This booklet was originally published in 1972. Pastor Jarrel Huffman went home to be with the Lord in early 1997.
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