In all of God’s works and ways we may discern a meeting together of seemingly conflicting elements—the centrifugal and the centripetal forces which are ever at work in the material realm illustrate this principle. So it is in connection with the operations of Divine providence: there is a constant interpenetrating of the natural and supernatural. So too in the giving of the sacred Scriptures: they are the product both of God’s and man’s agency: they are a Divine revelation, yet couched in human language, and communicated through human media; they are inerrantly true, yet written by fallible men. They are Divinely inspired in every jot and tittle, yet the superintending control of the Spirit over the penmen did not exclude nor interfere with the natural exercise of their faculties. Thus it is also in all of God’s dealings with mankind: though He exercises His high sovereignty, yet He treats with them as responsible creatures, putting forth His invincible power upon and within them, but in no wise destroying their moral agency. These may present deep and insoluble mysteries to the finite mind, nevertheless they are actual facts.
Arthur W. Pink The Application of Scriptures-A Study of Dispensationalism
4. We should study the wise treatment of controverted topics. Upon this point I venture to offer several practical suggestions for what they are worth.
(a) Years ago I asked the now lamented Dr. Jeter how he managed about matters in dispute between us and other denominations. His reply was, in substance, “I never go out of my way to avoid such topics, and never go out of my way to find them. When naturally suggested by my subject or the circumstances, I speak of them, and I try to speak without timid fear of giving offense, and without fierce vehemence, as if taking hostility for granted, but just treating these matters, so far as I can, in the same tone with which I speak of other things.”
This seemed to me then, and still seems, an admirable statement of the course it is generally best to pursue. Some are constantly going out of their way to find such topics through a bred-and-born love of controversy or a mistaken judgment as to its necessity and benefits. Others go out of their way to avoid all disputed questions, and want nothing to do with controversy of any kind. This latter class might be advised to study the history and recorded writings of a man named Paul. He did not shrink from controversy. Yea, and his Master and ours is polemical on every page of his recorded discourses, always striking some error or evil practice of the people around him.
(b) Dr. Jeter’s plan may further suggest, what I think is true, that it is commonly better to treat these topics as they occur in our ordinary discourses. Set sermons have certain advantage even public debates may still be useful in some few quart though most of us think their day of usefulness in this is passed. But set sermons forewarn our hearers holding different opinions to come with armor buckled and visor close watching that no shaft shall reach them; while some excellent people take them as an invitation to stay away. They are doubt sometimes appropriate and helpful, but in general the other course can scarcely fail to prove best.
(c) I think it very undesirable to connect sharp polemics with the actual administration of ordinances. Do not go into a defense of our restriction of the Lord’s Supper when about to take the bread and wine. Whatever you can say will repel some hearers and deeply pain some others, while such a discussion scarcely prove the best preparation for partaking. Try to out the sweet and blessed meaning of the ordinance and to serve it with unpretending reverence and solemnity, and it will itself teach all concerned.
I think Baptists often mar the wholesome solemnity of ordinance through the persuasion that they ought then and there to defend their restricted invitation. And when about to baptize, it is usually best simply to read the New Testament sages which give the history and significance of the ordinary and then with solemn prayer and a carefully prepared and reverent administration of the rite to leave it and the Scripture make their own impression. If an address or sermon be given present the practical lessons of baptism, especially that we should walk in newness of life, that will be more seemly, and often convincing, than to argue the proper subjects and proper action of baptism. Of course, any such suggestion as this must be subject to exception, but I am persuaded it will generally hold good.
(d) We should use mainly arguments drawn from the English Scriptures and from common experience or reflection; only occasionally those which depend on learning. Scholarship is greatly to be desired in ministers, and may we have much more of it!, but the highest function of scholarship in preaching is to take assured results and make them plain to the general understanding, and certain thorough evidence which the unlearned can appreciate. If you pour a flood of learning about your hearer, and he remembers that two Sundays ago there was a torrent of learning from Dr. Somebody on the other side, then, as he does not understand and cannot judge, he is apt to conclude that he will not believe either of you. And do let us beware of using doubtful arguments as if they were conclusive.
(e) We may treat these subjects by other means as well as by preaching. Many opportunities will occur in conversation, for one who has a cultivated social tact and conversational skill, to relieve some prejudice, parry some thrust, or suggest some point for research or reflection, far more effectively than it can be done in the pulpit, and this without unpleasantly obtruding such subjects or in any wise violating the delicate proponents of life. And carefully chosen tracts, books, or periodicals will often reinforce the sermon or conversation, or even reach some who would not listen to any public or private spoken words. We have already a great wealth of good literature of this kind, with which preachers and intelligent private members should make themselves as thoroughly acquainted as possible, so that they may know how to select precisely the most suitable for every case? a matter of the very highest importance.
(f) We must always speak of controverted subjects in a loving spirit. Baptists occupy, of necessity, a polemical position; let us earnestly strive to show that it is possible to maintain a polemical position in the spirit of true Christian love. This is really good policy; and, what is ten thousand times more, it is right.
John A. Broadus-The Duty of Baptists to Teach Their Distinctive Views
1. But though experience testifies that a seed of religion is divinely sown in all, scarcely one in a hundred is found who cherishes it in his heart, and not one in whom it grows to maturity so far is it from yielding fruit in its season. Moreover, while some lose themselves in superstitious observances, and others, of set purpose, wickedly revolt from God, the result is, that, in reward to the true knowledge of him, all are so degenerate, that in no part of the world can genuine godliness be found. In saying that some fall away into superstition, I mean not to insinuate that their excessive absurdity frees them from guilt; for the blindness under which they labor is almost invariably accompanied with vain pride and stubbornness. Mingled vanity and pride appear in this, that when miserable men do seek after God, instead of ascending higher than themselves as they ought to do, they measure him by their own carnal stupidity, and neglecting solid inquiry, fly off to indulge their curiosity in vain speculation. Hence, they do not conceive of him in the character in which he is manifested, but imagine him to be whatever their own rashness has devised. This abyss standing open, they cannot move one footstep without rushing headlong to destruction. With such an idea of God, nothing which they may attempt to offer in the way of worship or obedience can have any value in his sight, because it is not him they worship, but, instead of him, the dream and figment of their own heart. This corrupt procedure is admirably described by Paul, when he says, that “thinking to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22.) He had previously said that “they became vain in their imaginations,” but lest any should suppose them blameless, he afterwards adds that they were deservedly blinded, because, not contented with sober inquiry, because, arrogating to themselves more than they have any title to do, they of their own accord court darkness, nay, bewitch themselves with perverse, empty show. Hence it is that their folly, the result not only of vain curiosity, but of licentious desire and overweening confidence in the pursuit of forbidden knowledge, cannot be excused.
John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Henry Beveridge Translation
1. One of the best means of teaching our distinctive views to others is the thorough instruction of our own people. Brethren of other persuasions need not be repelled or offended if they find us taking suitable occasion in pulpit discourses to teach our young members what Baptists believe, and why. If they perceive we are not striking at them through our members, but in simplicity and sincerity feeding our flock, they may even listen with interest. And then, if they choose to take these things to themselves of their own accord and on their own responsibility, why, all the better, of course. But our young members greatly need such instruction for their own sakes, and it is often grievously neglected.
On a recent occasion a cultivated young lady stated that she had never in her life heard a word from the pulpit as to the relation between baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and yet she was the daughter of a well-known Baptist minister, and her pastors had been men of marked ability and earnest Baptists. Do you think it a rare case? You can find such by thousands. And we ought to teach these things, in their measure, not only to our Young members, but at home to the youth of our families.
Suffer another fact for illustration: I once knew a lad of sixteen, well educated for his years, whose father was a zealous and quite influential Baptist layman and his pastor an able and eloquent minister. The boy had been baptized, and with great joy and trembling had sat by his father’s side and taken bread and Wine in remembrance of Jesus. Some weeks later a Methodist preacher came through the country, a rare thing in that neighborhood, and after preaching he very tenderly invited all Christians to come to the Table of the Lord. The boy wanted to and knew of no reason why he should not, but thought he would wait till his older brother and sisters went forward; and, as they did not, he inquired on the way home why it was, and on reaching home asked his father about it. The argument was made plain enough, but it was all new to him. Pastors, parents, and had never thought it necessary to explain that matter to anybody.
I mention these homely incidents with the hope of arousing such Baptists as my voice can reach to consider how it may in their homes and their churches. Nor should this instruction neglected in our Sunday schools. The current lesson system can of course, make no immediate provision for such instruction, but it leaves ample room for it by giving lessons that embrace controverted matters, and it calculates that every denomination its lesson-helps will explain these matters according to its vies
It is clear, then, that Sunday schools connected with Baptist churches ought to use Baptist helps for the study of the lessons. If some undenominational publications are so valuable for teachers as to be desired also, they ought to be used only in addition to those which explain according to Baptist beliefs. We do not withhold instruction in our Lord’s other teachings till the pupil has become a believer, and why should we withhold it as to commands regarding church membership and ordinances?
Three benefits ought to follow from thus teaching our youth:
First, it will restrain them from hereafter going to other nominations through ignorance. Some reasons for such change cannot be touched by instruction. But not a few take such step because they were never taught the scriptural grounds Baptist usage, and so they readily fall in with the plausible idea that “one church is good as another if the heart is right.” There can be no doubt that well-meaning persons have in this way been lost to us whom early instruction might have retained.
John A. Broadus-The Duty of Baptists to Teach Their Distinctive Views
Argument for the Silent: A Biblical Case against Abortion
by Robert M. Bowman, Jr
Nowhere in the Bible is abortion mentioned specifically. That silence may seem to leave room for Christians to hold different opinions as to the morality of abortion while remaining faithful to the teachings of Scripture. Yet within Christianity an interesting alignment has developed on this issue. Nearly all churches and groups that view the Bible as the unerring Word of God also view abortion in all or nearly all instances as immoral. By contrast, nearly all churches and groups that view the Bible as a fallible human witness to God view abortion as a matter of personal choice rather than of objective morality.1 It seems reasonable to conclude that biblical values (at least some of which are shared by some non-Christians) inform the position that abortion is immoral, while the opposing view is in some respects out of keeping with biblical ethics. This article supports this conclusion by setting forth a biblical case against abortion.2
First, a brief comment about terminology is in order. Those who say that abortion is immoral label their position pro-life, indicating that for them the issue is not women’s rights but the life of the unborn. Those who argue that abortion is not generally immoral label their view pro-choice, emphasizing their belief that the issue is the right of women to choose whether to continue their pregnancy or end it by abortion. These terms will be used, since they are the labels each side prefers to use for themselves.
Read the rest here.
Objection — that religion and the belief of a Deity are the inventions of crafty politicians. Refutation of the objection. This universal belief confirmed by the examples of wicked men and Atheists.
2. It is most absurd, therefore, to maintain, as some do, that religion was devised by the cunning and craft of a few individuals, as a means of keeping the body of the people in due subjection, while there was nothing which those very individuals, while teaching others to worship God, less believed than the existence of a God. I readily acknowledge, that designing men have introduced a vast number of fictions into religion, with the view of inspiring the populace with reverence or striking them with terror, and thereby rendering them more obsequious; but they never could have succeeded in this, had the minds of men not been previously imbued will that uniform belief in God, from which, as from its seed, the religious propensity springs. And it is altogether incredible that those who, in the matter of religion, cunningly imposed on their ruder neighbors, were altogether devoid of a knowledge of God. For though in old times there were some, and in the present day not a few are found, 55 who deny the being of a God, yet, whether they will or not, they occasionally feel the truth which they are desirous not to know. We do not read of any man who broke out into more unbridled and audacious contempt of the Deity than C. Caligula, 56 and yet none showed greater dread when any indication of divine wrath was manifested. Thus, however unwilling, he shook with terror before the God whom he professedly studied to condemn. You may every day see the same thing happening to his modern imitators. The most audacious despise of God is most easily disturbed, trembling at the sound of a falling leaf. How so, unless in vindication of the divine majesty, which smites their consciences the more strongly the more they endeavor to flee from it. They all, indeed, look out for hiding-places where they may conceal themselves from the presence of the Lord, and again efface it from their mind; but after all their efforts they remain caught within the net. Though the conviction may occasionally seem to vanish for a moment, it immediately returns, and rushes in with new impetuosity, so that any interval of relief from the gnawing of conscience is not unlike the slumber of the intoxicated or the insane, who have no quiet rest in sleep, but are continually haunted with dire horrific dreams. Even the wicked themselves, therefore, are an example of the fact that some idea of God always exists in every human mind.
John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Henry Beveridge Translation
Here is an excellent letter, written by a mother, to the President of the United States; concerning abortion and his speech to ’Planned Parenthood.’
This mother touches on many issues of abortion, of which Obama simply ignores. She makes her case plain and accurate while calling Obama out.
Dear Mr. President,
I had a conversation with my kids the other day. We talked about the Gosnell case, as we try to talk about several current events. I tried to spare them of the gruesome details and give just the short version. They had so many questions, though. They wanted to know what abortion was. I explained that some mommies don’t want to grow a baby just then. I explained, and pointed out how much work babies were. I said that when most women have an abortion, the baby is still forming all of the organs, and not all the parts of the body work outside the mother just yet. I talked about how hard being pregnant was sometimes. I did not want to glorify anything.
My kids understood how hard it was. They’ve seen me go through it a few times. They understood the work, as we live it day in and day out as a family. However, the reality of what an abortion is…they thought I was making that up. They could not believe that anyone would do such a thing. They have an easier time believing in the tooth fairy. When I told them I was serious, they sat in horror.
I did not show them pictures. I was determined not to villainize my opposing side of view or seek to give them nightmares. But I want to teach my children how to form ideas. I want them armed with facts. I also told them about my experience with a crisis pregnancy center. I told them what some of the woman were like, and the challenges they faced. I talked about how some were forced into abortions by loved ones. I talked about the ones who faced depression, or were unable to ever have children because of an abortion procedure they had years earlier. I told them some women have abortions, and never feel bad about it.
To read the rest of this letter click here.
Tom Chantry writes an excellent article explaining why those who hold Charismatic doctrines cannot reconcile those doctrines with Reformed Theology’s distinct doctrine of God’s sovereignty. God’s word is always to be the center of all worship. Once charismatic influences rise within the walls of a local church, God’s word will be replaced with an emotional experience.
I have firsthand knowledge of the truth of this fact concerning charismatic doctrines. I have sat in charismatic churches for 16 years and the focus was not exegesis of the word of God, but rather extra-Biblical utterances and supposed revelations that were always held in higher esteem than what the Bible teaches.
Here is some of what Tom chantry states,
“Reformed Christians have therefore consistently affirmed the importance of the preached Word. As our own Confession puts it, following Westminster,
“The Grace of Faith, whereby the Elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the Ministry of the Word; by which also, and by the administration of Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, Prayer and other Means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened. (Second London Confession, xiv:1)”
This conviction is a necessary consequence of any consistent adherence to the principle of sovereignty. If God is truly sovereign over all gracious work in the soul, then He must control the means by which that work progresses, and further, those means will be the ones identified in His Word.
In contrast to the Reformed consensus on the means of grace, charismaticism has always and inevitably engaged in the belittlement of the ministry of the Word. What has been observed in charismatic churches for decades continues to hold true; no matter what is said of the importance of preaching, the real moment of communion with God comes when there is a prophetic utterance – no matter how banal. Wherever the church adopts charismatic doctrine, emotions must increase and thoughts decrease.”
Read the entire article right here.