Archive for category Baptist Distinctives

Kevin Bauder and Baptist Distinctives

Kevin Bauder, former President of Central Baptist Theological Seminary and current Research Professor of Systematic Theology at Central, recently wrote a book, published by Regular Baptist Press, entitled Baptist Distinctives and New Testament Church Order.  Earlier this week I purchased the book at the annual meeting of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches and attended a workshop where Kevin interacted with many pastors on related issues (a workshop moderated by Kevin Mungons of RBP).  I performed a hearty skim of the book and believe Kevin’s approach to Baptist distinctives is close to mine.  I was especially pleased that the emphasis on the New Testament approach to the Church or – as Kevin says it – New Testament authority was dealt with first.  I was also happy that Kevin said in the workshop that this single distinctive is the lynchpin for the other distinctives in the package that Baptists generally believe.

I think it is possible the Baptist historians have been better at identifying this lynchpin than Baptist theologians down through the years.  At least discussions about the so-called “primitive” church are plentiful (see Armitage, Orchard, Vedder, etc.).    While Baptist peoples have disagreed among themselves about whether the primitive or early biblical churches passed down the pattern for doing church in an unbroken chain through history (e.g., the landmark debate), one thing is clear.  Baptists look to the New Testament for doing church.  This makes them somewhat dispensational in disposition even if they don’t claim that label.  Baptists do not go to the OT for the pattern for how to do church even though OT wisdom can certainly be a guide for life in applicatory ways.  But the model is distinctively a NT one.

Out of this comes the main contribution of the modern Baptist movement in my opinion – the clarification of the significance of the local church.  This concept moved into mainstream evangelicalism over time and became a major competing model for doing church.

On being a witness at a trial…churches and tax assessment

Yesterday (Tuesday, October 25, 2011) I was a witness at a trial for the first time in my life.   I was a witness for Northmoreland Baptist Church (Pastor Howell) in the Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania area.  The church is challenging a tax assessment of its multi-purpose room by the county.  As I was sitting there, I was thinking that this was an honorable way or method for people to work out their complaints with each other.  In some places in the world, this kind of disagreement would not be handled this way at all–in fact disagreement with authorities would not even be allowed.

My testimony was for the purpose of showing Baptist views of worship and that the church in question was using its facilities in a way consistent with Baptist theology and tradition.  In doing so, I feel like I not only supported the cause of Christ for the church but also did my civic duty for the community.

Baptists and Scripture

I come from the Baptist tradition.  I was born again, baptized, and discipled under the ministry of a Baptist church which the Lord used to bring me to Himself back in 1974.  Every church I have belonged to has been a Baptist church.  Over the years I have preached in many non-Baptist churches and have had many students who were not technically Baptists.  I have read a ton of good literature in biblical studies and ministry pursuits by those who would not call themselves Baptists.  From the earliest days of my Christian experience, I have prayed with believers who did not share my Baptist convictions.  I have never been the kind of Baptist who looked down on other Bible-believing Christians from other traditions.  However, the opposite has not been true.  There have been many other believers who have expressed a measure of disdain for my Baptist heritage.  I have sometimes wondered why this is so.  Sometimes individual Baptist churches and individuals have acted in such a way to deserve this backlash.  However, on the whole I have trouble having a negative attitude about Baptists due to my positive experience in the Baptist churches I have been part of (not perfect but positive). Read the rest of this entry »